07/01/2013 07:36 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mum Almost Dies From Baby's Fingernail During Birth

Mum almost dies from baby's fingernail during birth Alamy

A mum almost died after a fingernail or piece of hair passed from one of her twin girls into her bloodstream during childbirth.

Angela Cottam, 32, gave birth to twin girls Amelie and Ava five weeks prematurely. The babies were resuscitated at birth because of their early arrival, and went on to make a full recovery, however Angela ended up in a coma and was given 22 blood transfusions after her lungs collapsed and she suffered internal bleeding.

Angela's midwife became concerned when she noticed her coughing and struggling for breath during her labour.

Doctors investigated and discovered her lungs were collapsing due to an amniotic fluid embolism, where fluid from the sac surrounding an unborn baby leaks into the mum's bloodstream through blood vessels in the womb.

Cells such as nails or hair from the babies that were in the fluid then made their way into Angela's lungs causing a severe allergic reaction. The freak incident is estimated to occur in just one in every 80,000 births.

Angela's medical team gave her oxygen and rushed her to an operating theatre for a caesarean section once they realised what was happening.

Her daughters were delivered, with baby Amelie arriving first at 4lb, 2oz, followed by Ava, weighing 4lb,10oz.

Ava was 'very, very touch and go,' her mum told the Daily Mail, admitting that doctors told her and husband Peter that the little girl had spent three minutes without oxygen and that they 'really had to work on her to resuscitate her'.

After the girls' delivery, Angela was found to be haemorrhaging and was eventually stabilised after receiving 22 blood transfusions.

She was in a coma and placed on a life support machine, with medics telling her 33-year-old husband that she could remain that way for days or weeks.

Angela actually came round 12 hours later, and was able to hold her newborn daughters the following day. A week later, she was well enough to return home to Flintshire, Wales, and be reunited with her four-year-old daughter Olivia, while the twins spent two weeks in hospital before being discharged.

Her consultant obstetrician told the Mail that amniotic fluid embolism is a 'unique, catastrophic condition'.

"Although we know it is more likely to occur in twin pregnancies or women who have their labour induced, they are not the direct cause. It is unpredictable, unpreventable and very rare," Dr Usha Rao said.

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