New mum Laura Burnage can’t believe she finally has the baby she desperately longed for – 20 YEARS after her first miscarriage. The 46-year-old gave birth to her son Miles after the heartache of losing five babies had almost robbed her of hope. And the successful arrival is all thanks to a 25p malaria tablet that enabled her pregnancy to go nearly full-term for the first time. Laura, said: “Holding my baby son in my arms after all these years of trying was the most fantastic moment of my life. “At 46 I thought I would never be a mum. Now thanks to a simple drug I finally have my miracle son.
“I never imagined an anti-malarial tablet could help me get pregnant. It really is amazing.” Miles is one of the first babies born thanks to a pioneering treatment carried out by miscarriage expert Hassan Shehata. And it has ended the recurring trauma for children’s mental health nurse Laura and her husband Simon, 51. Laura suffered her first miscarriage at the age of 26 when she was married to her first husband. That was followed by another two years later – and a third when she was 37.
Then seven years ago she began a relationship with self-employed builder Simon and they tried for a baby immediately. Simon had already had a vasectomy so the couple sought help from a fertility clinic. Laura said: “The first clinic I went to told me my age was against me. I came away feeling very despondent.” The couple then went to Care Fertility in Manchester and had a first course of IVF, but Laura did not become pregnant. She recalled: “That was devastating. I’d pinned all my hopes on the treatment. When it didn’t work it was heartbreaking.”
The couple were about to start their second course of IVF when a scan showed a blockage in one of Laura’s fallopian tubes, which deliver eggs from the ovaries. She had to undergo surgery to have both tubes removed, delaying IVF by six months. When it finally went ahead, the treatment was successful – but Laura lost the baby at just seven weeks. After another six-month wait, she and Simon had a third attempt at IVF in May last year. Despite falling pregnant, Laura lost the baby almost immediately. She said: “It was devastating. I thought I’d never be a mum.” Distraught by the constant cycle of loss, Laura underwent tests in June last year – and found she had a raised level of natural killer cells in her body.
The cells, known as NK cells, are a key part of the immune system, acting fast to stop tumours taking hold. But they can be so aggressive they attack the pregnancy, seeing the foetus as a foreign body. In order to suppress them, Laura’s team decided to try a treatment that used the anti-malarial drug, lowering the immune system response. Laura, from Morpeth, Northumberland, then had a fourth course of IVF in September and became pregnant again. She said: “I was thrilled to be pregnant but I was so worried about losing this baby too.
“At six weeks I started to bleed, and the bleeding carried on for another six weeks. I thought I’d lost my baby. But scans showed there was still a heartbeat there.” At 12 weeks, she stopped taking her medication and the bleeding stopped. She was admitted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle when growth scans revealed a suspected blood clot. Baby Miles was delivered at eight months by caesarian in May, weighing a healthy 7lb 7oz. Laura said: “I was scared all the way through that I was going to lose the baby, but he managed to hang on. Thanks to a malaria pill, I finally fulfilled my dream.”
The treatment has cost the couple more than £30,000, but Laura said: “You can’t put a price on being a mum. It’s the most fantastic feeling.” Simon added: “It’s so amazing that Laura is a mum at last. “It’s something she’s wanted for so long, and I’m so glad we never gave up. Miles is our little miracle.”