A RENFREWSHIRE mum has told how she is lucky to be alive after developing a rare condition that claimed the life of her unborn baby.

Laura and Jonathan McLeish are grieving the loss of baby Gabriel, who was delivered eight months into the pregnancy and just hours after they were given the terrible news that he had died in the womb.

Doctors discovered 31-year-old Laura had been suffering from Acute Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD), which occurs in about one in 20,000 pregnancies.

A consultant at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH), in Paisley, told the couple that, 15 to 20 years ago, both mother and baby would have been unlikely to survive.

Often, symptoms of AFLP can be mistaken for another condition, making early diagnosis difficult.

Laura, from Bishopton, who has a one-year-old son named Jude, said: “The week Gabriel was born, I was quite sick, with a lot of heartburn and indigestion, and then it started to get really uncomfortable.

“I phoned the doctor and they prescribed some medication to try to deal with the heartburn but I wasn’t getting any relief.

“Three hours later, I realised the cramps I was feeling were contractions, so I went up to the hospital. Then labour picked up really quickly after that and I was getting sicker and sicker.

“When I went into the hospital, my mum wasn’t allowed in because of Covid, so I was on my own when they told me his heart had stopped beating.

“He wasn’t kicking and I could feel his swooshing around. I thought he had turned head down for delivery but they said that is what happens when they pass away. Then they allowed my husband to come and Gabriel was born at quarter past five.”

Laura says she can barely remember the next few hours as her condition deteriorated and her liver and kidneys started to fail.

At one point, it was thought she might need transplant surgery.

The condition is thought to be caused by the cell’s powerhouse, the mitochondria, not breaking down fatty acids into smaller molecules that help the body process proteins, carbohydrates and fat.

These fatty acids then accumulate in tissues, clogging the mother’s liver.

The condition was previously thought to be universally fatal but aggressive treatment by stabilising the mother with intravenous fluids and blood products in anticipation of early delivery has improved prognosis.

Laura said: “Only one midwife had ever seen it before at the RAH, so my care was directed by specialists in Edinburgh.”

Gabriel was born on June 17 but his parents are still waiting for the results of a post-mortem which should provide some answers about his death and the risk of any future pregnancies.

Read all the latest from Renfrewshire and beyond