Seville Grove resident urges pregnant women to be wary of cytomegalovirus

Mark Bolt, Aliera Bolt and Katlyn O'Rourke.
Mark Bolt, Aliera Bolt and Katlyn O'Rourke.

KATLYN O’Rourke was over the moon when she found out she was pregnant.

But just halfway through the pregnancy that excitement turned to heartache when she was told the results of her 18-week scan.

The Seville Grove resident and her partner Mark discovered their unborn baby boy had Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a condition that causes mild flu-like symptoms for a regular healthy adult but for a foetus, could be life threatening.

Ms O’Rourke said they were told CMV had caused fluid in and around her unborn son’s bowels, an enlarged liver, a hole in his heart and he was measuring two weeks smaller than he should have been.

“Unfortunately there is no cure and little to no prevention and tests showed the count was in the millions for CMV -unfortunately he had gone down hill quickly, stopped growing and had significant brain damage,” she said.

“We were told that the brain damage was so significant that he would either be born stillborn or he would likely only live for a few hours to a few days tops.

“It was a very stressful time for us both and not knowing what was going on, we tried to think positive and knew that whatever the result would be we would do what was best for our little man.”

In what Ms O’Rourke described as the “toughest and most heartbreaking decision of our lives”, the pregnancy was ended at 21 weeks and little Wyatt Douglas James was delivered stillborn.

“After asking numerous questions we found out that it was highly likely that Wyatt would not make it full term and if he did, he would either pass away during labour or we would only have a very short few hours, likely only minutes with him,” she said.

“After having our questions answered, hearing his chances and seeing how bad the brain damage was, we made the hard decision that it was in Wyatt’s best interest to have a medical termination to stop his suffering.’

She said she wanted to let others know about the dangers of the relatively unknown yet common CMV to stop other families going through the same heartache.

“Testing for CMV is not routinely recommended for all women during pregnancy or for newborn babies, but CMV testing is recommended for pregnant women who develop an acute viral illness,” she said.

“However, pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy may wish to discuss CMV testing with their doctor, particularly if they work in high risk settings such as child care centres or have very young children at home.”

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