A baby, born 12 weeks early, ended up saving her mother’s life after doctors discovered a cancerous tumor.
Harriet Elsdon, 32, from Brentwood, Essex, gave birth to her daughter, Maddison Wilmshurst-Smith, 12 weeks before her due date. Medics told Harriet that if she hadn’t given birth so early, they might not have found the cancer growing on one of her ovaries in time.
Baby Maddison was not due until October, but on 1 July, her mother Harriet started experiencing serious abdominal pain and so rushed to Broomfield Hospital. Within 20 minutes of arriving, her daughter was born.
“After three pushes, she was out. It was such a whirlwind experience, and she was so tiny when she was born”, Harriet said.
“She was passed over to me… before going into the neonatal ward”.
But just five days later, when Harriet and her partner, Nicholas, went to visit their daughter in hospital, Harriet decided to have her abdomen checked because she was still experiencing pain. During the ultrasound, medics spotted a mass on one of her ovaries. They had discovered a tumor.
“If Nicholas and I hadn’t been in the hospital visiting Maddison I don’t think I would have bothered being medically checked. As any parent knows, you put your kids first and yourself second”.
“I was too busy worrying about my newborn to worry about myself – it was like she knew she had to come early to save my life”.
Harriet was able to have an operation to remove her right ovary and one of her fallopian tubes and started chemotherapy just weeks later.
Maddison, though, is thriving. Her mum said “Even though she was tiny at birth, she thrived in the ward compared to other premature babies”.
“I always think, if I [hadn’t] gone into early labor, I don’t think the tumor would have been caught in time. It’s almost like she knew she had to come out. If she didn’t, I’d be looking at stage three or four ovarian cancer”.
“Maddison really saved my life – but she won’t hear that from me as she’ll be using it against me when she’s a teenager”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “The prospects for extremely premature babies are improving all the time, but it doesn’t often happen that being born prematurely saves a woman’s life. What a great present for both mother and daughter just in time for Christmas.”