‘Amelia didn’t have a proper chance in life’

Louise Meadows lost her daughter Amelia to CDH and wants to raise awareness of the condition. Picture: Marie Caley D4552MC
Louise Meadows lost her daughter Amelia to CDH and wants to raise awareness of the condition. Picture: Marie Caley D4552MC

A brave mum has spoken of her devastation at losing her baby girl to a tragic rare condition.

Louise Meadows and her husband Gavin lost their daughter, Amelia Grace, an hour after she was born due to an illness called congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Amelia was born without a proper diaphragm, which means her heart and lungs were unable to develop properly. The condition occurs in just one in 2,500 pregnancies.

Louise, 34, wants to raise awareness of CDH after millions tuned in to watch the heartbreaking story of Scunthorpe couple Hayley Jackson and Pete Heseltine on Channel Four show One Born Every Minute last night. Their son, Kaiden, lost a six-day battle with CDH.

“CDH is an awful condition and we must fight against it,” said Louise, of Dundas Road, Wheatley.

“People often ask how we carry on because we have been through so much but my answer is Amelia didn’t get a proper chance at life so I have to make the most of mine.”

Louise and Gavin, who have been together for 17 years, were overjoyed on Boxing Day 2011 to find out they were expecting Amelia. They had been through five cycles of IVF, which made the news even more special.

But during some tests, they were heartbroken to learn that Amelia had CDH. She was given a ten per cent chance of survival, which increased to 50 per cent after an operation inside Louise’s womb.

“We were terrified, we were absolutely heartbroken,” said Louise, a countryside and woodland officer at Doncaster Council. “They said we could terminate the pregnancy but we weren’t going to do that after what we had been through. We were always going to give her a chance.”

At 30 weeks into the pregnancy, Louise went into early labour and she gave birth to Amelia on June 23, 2012, by emergency C-section. She weighed 3lb 1oz.

“As soon as I went into labour I knew she wouldn’t live. It had been a terrifying pregnancy. We never gave up hope for her but she had a 50/50 chance.”

Amelia lived for just one hour but she has left an incredible legacy behind her, with her parents and their friends and family all joining forces to raise awareness of CDH and funds for charity CDH UK.

“I still have very dark days but try to focus on raising awareness and raising funds for CDH UK,” said Louise.

“I want to make Amelia proud of her mummy too. No parent should ever have to bury a child. It’s been so hard. But we are hoping to do IVF again. We can’t give in now.”

A CDH UK fundraising event will be held at Bar and Bistro, East Laith Gate, on June 15. Search for ‘Amelia Grace’s Butterfly Bash’ on Facebook for details.