An epidural is a popular painkilling injection administered into the spinal cord. It is supposed to make labor so much easier for the mother, and for a short while it did for mom Irrum Jetha of Middlesex.
As she clutched her newborn daughter against her chest, she was overcome with sheer joy. Unbeknownst to her, her joy would be shot lived.
The epidural that had helped her birth her daughter would leave her paralyzed from the waist down.
“Because Irrum had had a pulmonary heart valve replaced when she was 19, she was recommended to have the epidural to reduce the potential strain on her heart,” said a Daily Mail report.
But for some reason, the routine procedure went awry.
“The birth itself was a fabulous experience. I was euphoric afterwards. And when Adam cried ‘It’s a girl’ we were both in tears,” she said.
But soon she lost feeling from the pelvis down. At first the doctors attributed it to the labor, but as the hours went by and she still couldn’t get up, the doctors began to panic.
“At Charing Cross, doctors discovered Irrum had suffered a rare epidural haematoma: the injection had caused a blood clot to compress her spinal cord, which had left her paralysed,” said the Daily Mail report.
“She had hours of emergency surgery to take the pressure off her spinal cord—an operation that was itself life-threatening.”
Irrum was then moved to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, which specializes in spinal injuries, and eventually came home just before Christmas 2014.
Irrum Jetha with her daughter Amelie; Photo credit: Craig Hibbert
Twenty months later she still remained paralyzed.
“It has been a huge struggle,” Irrum told the Daily Mail. “I’m in a lot of pain and I don’t feel confident enough to leave the house in my chair alone. At times I feel so very useless.
“Obviously I can’t go back to my old job as I was on my feet all day in the laboratory. And Adam has had to more or less give up work to look after both of us.
“I can’t bath her alone or change her myself. The world that I knew has collapsed and the pain of not being able to care for my little girl is devastating.”
Irrum now endures five hours of painful therapy daily in the hope of repairing the damage to her spine.
“This was a very complex, rare and tragic case and we offer our sincere condolences to Mrs Jetha and her family,” aid a spokesman for the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
“We have fully reviewed our procedures for post-anesthetic monitoring and for rapid transfer to specialist units for imaging and neurosurgery. We cannot offer any further comment at the moment as this case is the subject of legal proceedings.”
But Irrum isn’t running out of hope just yet. She and her husband has a plan on raising money so she could undergo a medical procedure in Germany, which offers specialist physiotherapy.
“I would need to spend three months at the Zentrum der Rehabilitation Geerlofs centre in Pforzheim—but it will cost £40,000,” she said.
“I had a preliminary examination there in October and they are confident that after the treatment, I may be able to take a few steps using a walking frame. The hope of that is what keeps us going.”
READ: Epidural Risks during Pregnancy
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