An Edinburgh mum is demanding answers from the NHS after she became pregnant despite being sterilised due to a painful spinal condition.
Beth McDermott, 31, had the procedure while undergoing a C-section to deliver second son Corey last June.
But she and husband Shaun were shocked to discover she was pregnant just months later following five positive pregnancy tests and an emergency scan at the hospital.
NHS Lothian has apologised to Beth and has said that female sterilisation is more than 99% effective.
Beth told STV News: “I noticed my period was late – but I never in a million years thought it would be because I was pregnant.
“When the two lines came up I was hyperventilating. Shaun had to come home from work as I was panicking and couldn’t breathe. He was trying to calm me down but we were both in utter shock.
“I’m still trying to get my head around it. I am terrified as I know what’s ahead of me.
“The thing that scares me most is it’s only going to get harder. I’ll start to struggle with my back further on.
“Obviously I have that motherly instinct of ‘oh, another baby!’ We are also very aware of how lucky we are, as every baby is a blessing.
“But it’s going to be tough. My other baby will be 13 months old when this baby comes.
“I’m lucky I’m close by family. I don’t think I’d be able to do it all otherwise.”
Beth was diagnosed with a rare spinal condition, cauda equina syndrome in 2014, which compresses nerves and can cause paralysis.
She had emergency spinal cord surgery which left her struggling to walk. She was also “devastated” to learn she may never be able to have children.
“I was 22 and my whole world had changed in the space of a day,” she said.
“I remember I could feel my left leg starting to get numb and couldn’t pee. I went to A&E and had my operation that day.
“I’ve got nerve damage down my left side and my bladder doesn’t work properly. I had to learn to walk again – three years of intense physiotherapy to get it back to a manageable level.
“I was really lucky I managed to have children in the end.”
Beth went on to have six-year-old Sonny and eight-month old Corey, though she struggled with severe back pain throughout both pregnancies.
Last year, she was advised by doctors to undergo sterilisation due to her condition – a procedure which involved fixing metal clips to her fallopian tubes.
Beth has called for an investigation as she fears the procedure could fail her again after the planned birth of her third child this spring.
“The NHS have apologised and I appreciate that. They said they did all they should,” she said. “If it’s a natural failure, that’s fine. But things can go wrong. Mistakes can be made in any profession.
“It is my body and I am entitled to know. Would I even want it done again, if I can’t trust it?
“I want people to know that this can happen. I don’t want anyone else to go through that trauma. I need answers.”
Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Lothian said: “We would publicly repeat our sincere apology to Ms McDermott and her family for the distress and upset caused.
“Female sterilisation is more than 99% effective however, there’s a small risk that a sterilisation operation won’t work as blocked tubes can rejoin immediately or years later. These risks are discussed with all patients before the procedure is carried out.
“Ms McDermott remains in close contact with our teams and we would urge her to come forward with any further concerns.”
Beth has 15 weeks to go until the baby arrives and the family are looking forward to finding out the gender in February.
“Sonny is really excited to have another sibling – and we’ll need to see how Corey deals with being the middle child!” she added.
“We are still in shock but we’re all happy now. This baby is a wee miracle, even if they shouldn’t be here.”
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