Story by Claire Elliot
MIRACLE baby Keira Robertson died for 25 minutes then survived life-saving heart surgery - all before she was an hour old.
Doctors warned her parents, Michaela and Christopher, that she was so ill she would not survive 21 weeks in her mother’s womb.
They said as well as having four major heart defects, she had a high risk of cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome.
But Mrs Robertson, from Brechin, Angus, refused to give up on her unborn baby and ignored advice to terminate the pregnancy.
When Keira was delivered ‘pink and screaming’ a week early, she and her husband could not have been happier.
But just nine minutes later Keira’s heart stopped.
Now after being declared dead for 25 minutes, two major heart surgeries at 40 minutes and eight days old, and a week of hypothermia treatment to reverse any brain damage, Keira is a happy, smiling baby.
And the tot, who incredibly was in hospital for just 21 days, is already on to her next challenge - learning to crawl.
Proud Mrs Robertson, 23, said: “She’s amazing, She’s doing everything she should be doing for a seven-month old. She’s sitting up and rolling, quicker than the boys did. And she doesn’t have Down’s syndrome or cystic fibrosis.
“At my 20 week scan they gave me three weeks to decide whether to continue with the pregnancy, They said she wouldn’t make it past 21 weeks in the womb. But I decided to carry on. Every week were told the pros and cons but I ignored it, I knew she’d be ok.
“And she’s proved them all wrong.”
Mrs Robertson, who is also mum
to Kaiden, four, and Bayley, two,
discovered her daughter had
transposition of the great arteries
at a routine scan half way through
She also had two holes in her heart
and narrowing of the pulmonary valve.
The combination of defects meant
there was limited blood being
pumped around her body or
to the lungs.
For the remainder of her pregnancy
she received regular growth scans
and was told Keira would weigh
about 4lb at birth.
But when Keira was born by
caesarean section a week early
at the Southern General Hospital
in Glasgow on March 28 she
weighed a healthy 8lb 5oz.
It took more than two hours
to deliver the baby, as her head was so low in her mother’s pelvis and her feet were stuck in her rib cage.
Mrs Robertson said: “The surgeon actually lifted me off the operating table with the force needed to pull the baby out.”
Eventually when she was delivered, she was a healthy colour and crying like a normal baby.
The plan was to transfer Keira to nearby Yorkhill Children’s Hospital within 24 hours.
But at nine minutes old her heart stopped.
She was whisked away to the resuscitation room, where doctors at the Southern General spent the next 25 minutes battling to bring her back to life.
Mrs Robertson said: “When she came out she was pink and was screaming but at nine minutes old her heart stopped and she passed away for 25 minutes.
“The doctors came down and told us that things weren’t looking too good and she probably won’t make it.
“I just sat there in shock. My mum and my husband just sat there crying but I just didn’t register what they were saying.
“How do you react to someone telling you your baby is going to die? It just didn’t sink in.”
Doctors massaged the newborn’s heart to try and keep the blood pumping and carried out constant CPR to try and revive the newborn.
She was also given five doses of adrenaline to try and kick-start her tiny heart.
They were on the verge of giving up but at 24 minutes they decided to give her one last chance and a minute later her heart began to work.
Mrs Robertson said: “They had been trying for so long that they said it would have been better to let her go but after 24 minutes they gave it one last attempt and she pulled through.”
Just six minutes later, when she was only 40 minutes old, doctors carried out an emergency operation to keep the arteries in her heart open.
She was then whisked to intensive care and her body cooled to just 24C in a bid to reverse any brain damage as it had been starved of oxygen for so long.
At eight days old she then had a 10-hour open heart surgery to correct the back to front arteries, two holes in her heart and widen the pulmonary valves.
Her body temperature was then gradually brought back up one degree at a time to the normal body temperature of 37C.
Mrs Robertson said: “They said she could take badly to being reheated and have blood clots but she was fine.
“But after the operation when we finally got to see her, nothing prepared us for seeing our poor girl’s chest wounds and dressings.
“But a few days later she opened her eyes for the first time aged two weeks and I finally got to hold her. It was such an emotional day.”
But she said: “The whole time we were in Yorkhill I didn’t cry. It was only when I got her discharge papers that I stood there and broke down. Everything hit me at once, I was reliving it all. It took three weeks to kick in what had happened.
“When they came through and said she had passed away for 25 minutes I just thought she’s not going to make it.
“I never thought we’d get to this stage or be looking forward to spending Christmas with her.
“I had waited so long for a girl, I wasn’t giving up on her. It’s nice having her home.”
She added: “I’ve never seen a happier kid in my life. Her smile is huge and she enjoys everything she does. Nothing comes over her. To look at her you wouldn’t think she has been through everything that she has. She‘s as healthy as can be.”
To thank the staff at Yorkhill who saved her, Mrs Robertson and her husband, a 29-year-old engineer, are now raising funds for Yorkhill Children’s Charity.
To support them visit http://www.justgiving.com/michaela-robertson1
Keira battling for life in intensive care in hospital.