A mum who suffered five miscarriages has named her baby daughter after the St Thomas’ doctor who made her birth possible.
Mum Martina named her baby girl Gail Shennan, after Professor Andrew Shennan who leads the specialist pre-term surveillance clinic at the hospital.
Professor Sherman diagnosed Martina with an incompetent cervix – where the neck of the womb weakens or opens too early in pregnancy – and treated it with a pioneering procedure called the abdominal stitch.
It was a success and after five miscarriages – including the devastating loss of two babies at nineteen and 23 weeks – Martina gave birth to her daughter at 35 weeks, during the first lockdown.
“After my first child turned three we decided to try for a baby. I got pregnant relatively quickly but I had a miscarriage at eight weeks. I put it down to bad luck so I wasn’t too worried,” she said.
“But not long after that I had another two miscarriages at nine weeks and then at 11 weeks.
“I thought something must be wrong, so I went to see my doctor and had some tests, but the results were all normal.”
Martina was able to get pregnant again – but tragically lost the baby at nineteen weeks.
“I was devastated, terrified, and confused,” she said.
“I still didn’t know what was wrong and my internal examinations and tests were still showing that everything was fine.”
Martina got pregnant again, but once again suffered complications. Her baby was born alive, but was too little to be supported. “I was numb and in complete shock,” she said.
In April 2019, Martina and her husband referred themselves to Dr Shennan, who despite her complex medical history, managed to quickly identify a scar on her cervix.
Martina added: “It felt too good to be true.” The professor even travelled to Aberdeen, where the family live, to perform the surgery.
And after just a few months, the couple were able to have a baby daughter, Gail Shennan.
“I’m delighted and honoured to have Martina’s daughter named after me. I’m so glad we were able to support her to have a successful pregnancy,” the professor said.
Now he is teaching other doctors how to perform the life-changing procedure. He added: “I want to ensure that as many doctors as possible know how to do it to prevent families from suffering heart breaking losses.”
The aim, he said, was to raise awareness of the relatively unknown procedure.
The abdominal stitch is permanent, which means that women are unable to have a vaginal birth, and will need a caesarean section.