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Kerry mum calls for detailed scans for pregnant women after the tragic death of her daughter

Jazmine Sands Sheehan and baby Isabella
Jazmine Sands Sheehan and baby Isabella

A heartbroken young mum has pleaded with the HSE to give detailed scans to all pregnant women after her newborn daughter was born with a fatal heart condition.

Jazmine Sands Sheehan and her partner Kevin were over the moon when their beautiful, little daughter, Isabella, was born on May 23 last.

However, shortly after Isabella was born, the couple received the news that every new parent fears the most – that their baby was unwell.

The young mother said she has no issue with hospital staff – and will always be grateful for the incredible care and kindness they showed Isabella in her brief battle for life.

But Jazmine has now launched a campaign, in memory of baby, Isabella, for all pregnant women to be specially screened for potential infant heart abnormalities during pregnancy.

"Isabella was born on May 23 and she weighed five pounds and one ounce," Jazmine said.

"Everything was perfect. She screamed at birth, we had kisses and hugs and cuddles. Everything seemed fine."

However, doctors became concerned over Isabella and she was transferred from Kerry to a Dublin hospital for specialist care.

"She was diagnosed with a serious heart defect. The doctors (in Dublin) even consulted with doctors at Great Ormond Street in London."

"But the London doctors were amazed that Isabella had even been born alive given the condition of her poor heart."

"On the Thursday morning we were taken into a private room and told that there was nothing could be done for Isabella."

"I had a notebook and pen ready for whatever treatment plan the doctors would advise. Unfortunately there was no plan, nothing could be done and we were going to lose her."

"Her poor heart was too badly deformed."

Isabella – who was christened ‘The Warrior Princess’ by her family - had hypo-plastic left heart syndrome.

This results in the left side of the heart being chronically underdeveloped and drastically impacting on the flow of blood and oxygen through the heart.

One of the last things that baby Isabella did before her death was to appear to smile at her devastated parents.

"My ultimate goal, in Isabella's name, is to now have everybody who is expecting to be fully screened during their pregnancy," Jazmine said.

"The heart is the vital organ in the body that every unborn child should be screened for possible defects or abnormalities with."

After Isabella’s tragic death, Jazmine was handed a special letter from hospital staff to explain to Gardai, if they were stopped on their trip back to Kerry, the precise circumstances of their little girl's death.

The tiny baby was carried out to the family's car by her father, Kevin, in a car seat and driven home to Co Kerry. A beautiful pink coffin was waiting for Isabella when she arrived home.

"Kevin and myself were so distraught all we wanted to do was get home. It was only afterwards we wondered about it."

"We were shocked - it wasn't what we were expecting," Jazmine said.

Jazmine has now started a social media appeal and appeared on TV3 to campaign for her specialist screening plea.

She has also appeared on Radio Kerry, Cork Red FM’s and The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.

"The key thing is preparation. Parents deserve to know as early as possible if they face a potential situation like ours."

"If we'd known a little earlier, we could have prepared ourselves and prepared our seven year old son, Keelan."

"We would have been prepared for the fact that we weren't going to be bringing Isabella home they way we wanted to."

"We never, in our worst moment, ever thought we would be bringing our little girl home dead and strapped into a baby seat in our car."

Jazmine said the hardest thing she has ever endured was arriving home from Isabella's funeral to the sight of baby bottles ready by the kettle.

"I don't want any other mother or father to go through what we have. That's why I believe every pregnant Irish mum deserves to have their baby exhaustively screened at key stages in their pregnancy."

"I don't want anyone else to go through this. I want Isabella's legacy to be a screening programme that all of Ireland be proud of," she said.

Jazmine underwent routine screening during her pregnancy but it did not pick up the heart defect that Isabella had developed.

 

Jazmine is due to appear on TV3’s Ireland AM tomorrow morning.