A brave mum who nearly died after a miscarriage and a pregnancy complication carried her dead baby for 10 days because she didn’t want to spoil her family holiday.
Debbie King, who is married to G4 singer Jonathan Ansell, suffered a devastating miscarriage while she was on in Lanzarote with her family, but that was just the beginning of her trauma.
Mum-of-two Debbie said: “I put on a brave face. We hadn’t told anyone about the pregnancy. It was really hard and there were moments when I was very sad but I didn’t want to spoil the holiday for the kids.
“I spoke to my gynecologist back in the UK who said it was safe to wait until I got home.”
But when doctors back in England removed the foetus, Debbie’s body started to bleed uncontrollably as a result of what’s known as a placenta percreta.
The X Factor star’s wife, from Leeds, needed three rounds of emergency surgery after the routine procedure, and needed every drop of blood in her body replaced with transfusions.
Debbie, who writes children’s books, said: “I was frightened for my life. I had gone from desperate for a baby to just desperate to be alive.
“We were devastated about losing our baby but now I am just glad I didn’t die.”
The trauma started in August, when Debbie, 40, was 10-weeks pregnant.
She flew with Jonathan, 35, runner-up in the 2004 series of X Factor, and their two children, Siena, six, and Dexter, two, to Lanzarote for a family holiday.
Earlier in her pregnancy, Debbie had some bleeding but was reassured by an ultrasound scan that everything was alright.
But on August 12, three days into her trip, Debbie’s bleeding started again, prompting her to see a local doctor.
Debbie said: “The doctor scanned me and said that he could see a heartbeat, but it was very slow and the foetus wasn’t moving. He wanted me to go to the bigger hospital in the capital Arrecife.
“We got there and had a scan but unfortunately after a few minutes, the doctor said there was no heartbeat.
“Jonathan wanted me to have it when we were there, but I just had this awful feeling about having an operation away from home.”
After the heartbreaking news, the family stayed in Lanzarote for 10 days, with Debbie putting on a brave face for her kids.
When she got back to Leeds on August 22, she went to the private Spire hospital in the city to have the contents of her uterus removed.
Consoling herself with the knowledge she had two beautiful children already, and could always try again, Debbie went in for the procedure, which takes place under local anaesthetic.
But what should have taken 15-20 minutes took two hours, with Debbie bleeding uncontrollably until medics stemmed the flow with a Rusch balloon, which blocked off her blood vessels.
Debbie said: “They left it in for four hours but when they tried to take it out, I just starting bleeding a lot. I could feel the blood pouring out of me and my blood pressure was dropping massively.”
The bleeding didn’t let up, and Debbie ended up back in theatre and then on to St James’s Hospital, Leeds, after the second attempt to stop the bleeding didn’t work.
She said: “Jonathan was waiting outside and the nurse just kept coming in and out to get more blood. Essentially, every drop of blood in my body was replaced.”
Debbie was then put in an induced coma for 48 hours, saying: “I was in a coma but, though I couldn’t move or speak, I knew what was going on. The doctors told me it can happen but it’s quite rare.
“It was the most frightening moment of my life because I didn’t know if I was ever going to come out of it. I just wanted to speak but I couldn’t.”
After two days, Debbie was taken to a general ward, although doctors were concerned when they saw large red clots in her catheter.
She was told she needed an endoscopy, where a camera is inserted into the body.
This revealed that she had suffered the very rare pregnancy complication placenta percreta, where the placenta had attached itself to the C-section scar from her first pregnancy.
The placenta had then grown in the gap between her uterus and her bladder, before growing through the bladder itself.
Debbie said: “They told me it is so rare and none of the doctors had ever treated anything like this before. I have been told that I will become a case for medical journals and textbooks.”
The next day, Debbie needed more surgery to remove as much of her placenta as possible without removing any of her bladder.
Medics were able to save the bladder, and hope that there will be no lasting damage despite the pain Debbie is currently in.
The brave mum, who returned home earlier this week, said: “They are hopeful that there won’t be any lasting impact. They still don’t know for sure if my bladder will go back to normal but I am reasonably young, fit and healthy and we hope it will.
“I have missed weeks of my kids’ lives – things like seeing them go back to school. I know they are fine and are being cared for but I just want to be their mum and go home to them. I can’t wait to enjoy tiny little things like reading a bedtime stories to my kids.
“Throughout everything, Jonathan has been incredible. My mum Wendy King and cousin Jody Harris have been amazing as have all my friends and family.
“But I can’t thank the staff who looked after me enough, especially the surgeons who literally saved my life. I want to do something for the NHS when I am fit and well because they are so undervalued but so kind, knowledgeable and caring.”