Niki Cunningham of Devon, England, hadn't worried about vasa previa, a condition that can make the umbilical cord rupture during labor.
But when Harry arrived via emergency C-section three weeks early, in June, he was already caught in vasa previa's deadly grip. Bleeding led to brain damage and organ failure. Twenty-six hours later, he died.
Cunningham later wrote: "This isn't meant to happen, I kept thinking. ... a mother shouldn't have to say goodbye to her baby. But I had."
An article this week in the Daily Mail has again put the spotlight on Cunningham's campaign to raise awareness of vasa previa through the Harry Cunningham Trust. Her aim is to give other babies the chance Harry never had by pressuring Britain's national health care program to provide for a routine ultrasound screening to detect vasa previa.
Cunningham, 29, suffered two episodes of bleeding during her pregnancy but was sent home each time, the Daily Mail reported. After Harry's death, grieving and confused, she did her research.
"It is heartbreaking to discover all it would have taken was an extra two minutes to check and Harry would be here with me now," she told the tabloid.
Vasa previa, in which the placenta or umbilical-cord blood vessels cross the birth canal, occurs in around 1 in 2,500 pregnancies, according to the International Vasa Previa Foundation. Babies born to moms with the condition are much more likely to die.
"Because I wasn't diagnosed, because it's not part of their routine checks, I lost my son," Cunningham told the BBC.
According to a Medical Digest paper, a scan for vasa previa can make a huge difference. "VP is life threatening to a healthy baby, but a proper diagnosis and an elective Caesarean section will easily prevent unnecessary deaths," the paper concluded.
That's just the kind of message that Cunningham wants out there. In a blog entry this month she wrote: "What has happened, has happened, and nothing can change the result for my little boy. But what can change, is to ensure this NEVER happens again to another family, waiting to meet their little boy."
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