A heavily pregnant woman’s life was saved when a blood clot was removed from her brain within three hours of her suffering a stroke using a pioneering procedure.
Jana Smith, 29, is only the third pregnant woman in the UK to undergo the method of physically removing the clot using a catheter inserted in the groin and fed up through the blood vessels, according to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.
Mrs Smith, who has now made a full recovery, had a healthy baby – Jonathan – by caesarean section three days later.
She said she was 39 weeks pregnant and in the bathroom at home in Sheffield when she suddenly slid to the floor and was unable to get up.
“I tried to grab onto different things like the edge of the bath to try and pull myself up, but I had no strength,” Mrs Smith said.
She said she was in the middle of an online chat conversation with her husband Tom, who got worried when she stopped responding and rushed home to her rescue.
But she had already lost movement in the left side of her body, could not move her left arm or leg and her speech was very slurred.
“I was very scared for the baby and didn’t care much about myself but kept hands on my belly trying to monitor baby’s movements,” she said. “It still makes me very emotional.”
Mrs Smith was taken to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in Sheffield, where she was given an immediate CT scan.
This confirmed a clot in Mrs Smith’s brain and it was decided that the mechanical thrombectomy procedure would be the best treatment rather than the normal drugs-based methods.
Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist Sanjoy Nagaraja, supported by Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist Richard Dyde, inserted a catheter in Mrs Smith’s groin and fed it up to her brain, using X-rays to guide it.
The clot was then removed using suction in a procedure which took 20 minutes.
A theatre was kept on standby in case an emergency caesarean was necessary.
Dr Nagaraja said: “The mechanical method enabled us to save Jana without using drugs which could have harmed her baby, and enabled it to remain in the uterus.
“Within hours of the procedure, Jana had recovered significantly and regained most of her function.”
Mrs Smith said: “It was very scary and emotionally difficult for me and my husband because we’ve been waiting for this baby for some time. I had a miscarriage last year so little Jonny is our much wanted rainbow baby.
“The fact they saved me so quickly and I made a full recovery means the world to us.”
She said: “He’s a healthy beautiful little boy with a big appetite and I’m able to fully take care of him.
“My left side is fully recovered now and I keep practising my fine motor skills on the baby clothes every day.
“When he’s old enough to understand it, we will tell him the story of what happened when he was born.”
Mrs Smith said she wanted to use her experience to raise awareness of how important it is to act fast if you think someone is having a stroke.