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HELLP syndrome mum raises awareness after baby heartache

A mum who lost her baby daughter after HELLP syndrome has sprung into action to raise awareness for the condition

Posted: 18 June 2012
by Sophie Westnedge
Blood test
Kelly wants to raise awareness for HELLP syndrome

A mum, who lost her daughter after contracting HELLP syndrome in her 16th week of pregnancy, has become determined to raise awareness for the condition to help other pregnant women.

Kelly Lewis contracted HELLP syndrome, a form of pre-eclampsia, while she was pregnant with her daughter Ellissia. Sadly Kelly had no choice but to deliver her daughter early as her own life was at risk.

HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count) can be life threatening if not treated and early diagnosis is critical.

At 15 weeks pregnant Kelly started to experience pains and, after an uncomfortable few days of the pains coming and going, she called a doctor and was referred to A&E.

“The out of hours doctor sent an ambulance as I was describing chest pains,” Kelly said. “At A&E I was told I had a urine infection and was given antibiotics.”

“The doctors didn’t even imagine it could be HELLP as it rarely happens this early,” she explained.

The NHS website’s information on pre-eclampsia and HELLP previously stated, “pre-eclampsia cannot happen until at least the 20th week of pregnancy.” Kelly has since campaigned for this to be changed, and now the NHS information says HELLP can occur “in rare cases before 20 weeks”.

Kelly was sent home and after 3 days of still feeling unwell she called her GP to find out the results of her blood and urine tests. She was told she would need another blood test due to high levels of liver enzymes.

By the time of the repeat blood test, just 8 days after feeling the first pains, Kelly was feeling terrible. Because her urine was showing high levels of protein and a high blood pressure, she was referred to the gynecology ward at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where she was observed overnight.

“At this stage I was feeling very alone, scared and vulnerable,” Kelly explained.

The next day Kelly was told by doctors that they thought she had HELLP syndrome and that the only way to save her life would be to give birth to her baby…right now.

Kelly delivered baby Ellissia after 3 hours of labour, but at not even 16 weeks, the baby was too young to survive. Kelly also had a partial molar pregnancy.

“I spent 3 more days on the delivery ward as I was still poorly,” said Kelly. “But I was lucky to be alive.”

Kelly aims to raise awareness of HELLP syndrome and has set up a group on Facebook, which provides information and support for those affected by the condition.

“It’s so important to get the message and the symptoms out there, it really can happen at any stage of pregnancy,” Kelly explained.

“My aim now is to warn others of the symptoms as I am living proof that HELLP can happen earlier than doctors and the NHS thought possible,” Kelly said. “Don’t ignore the symptoms.”

Kelly’s organising a 12-mile charity walk on 11th August 2012 to raise money in aid of Tommy's baby charity. Check out her JustGiving page for more information or to make a donation.

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