New mum survives heart failure

190613  Gemma Kerr and her son Kai, 5 months old.
190613 Gemma Kerr and her son Kai, 5 months old.

A Bo’ness mum whose heart stopped beating two days after she gave birth to her first child has thanked the medics who saved her life.

Gemma Kerr of Grangepans was whisked back into hospital with breathing difficulties the day after Kai was born. She was later transferred by ambulance to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank where her heart then stopped.

Said Gemma: “I had Kai on the Friday and was sent home, but later on the Saturday night I couldn’t breathe.

“I phoned the ambulance and was taken to hospital. On the Sunday in Clydebank they had to put me to sleep and realised my heart wasn’t beating at all.”

Husband Alan and mum Debbie Greig were briefed on the potential scenarios: putting a balloon in the heart to do the pumping, hooking Gemma to a machine to circulate the blood in her body, or as a final option, a heart transplant.

But Gemma, on a ventilator, quickly came round and by the Tuesday, was transferred out of intensive care to another ward. On less medication and facing ‘at least a three-four week stay’, she said: “Then it hit me. I should be at home with my son.”

A cot was set up for Kai, and Gemma beat expectations and was home 10 days later.

She said: “They still don’t really know why pregnant women end up with heart failure. I’m doing a research project with them. They took all my details and put it in a journal which goes worldwide, so other countries can see what they are doing.”

Gemma had been a little breathless before first going home with Kai, but Forth Valley Royal Hospital put this down to her being tired after the February 1 birth.

After checkups at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank she has now been discharged.

“They are happy with how I’m doing,” she said, praising the care from all of the staff - including the British expert in this field - saying: “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today.”

The Crown Bar, where dad-in-law Michael Kerr is the landlord, was packed for a darts, pool and poker fundraiser last Saturday. The £1500 made will go to a charity run by Gemma’s consultant, and the ward she was in. Donations can still be made via the Crown Bar.

Gemma (22) thanked family and friends who visited her in hospital, including dad, Peter, and brother Darryl, and all the fundraising supporters.