A woman who suffered 18 miscarriages trying for a baby described her joy today after giving birth to a 'little miracle'. After 13 years of trying, Angie Baker finally gave birth to a baby girl, Raiya, following pioneering treatment.
Ms Baker, 33, from Peacehaven near Brighton, said: 'She's my little miracle. I can't explain how I feel. I'm overwhelmed. It seems like a dream and I still have to pinch myself. She's perfect in every way.'
Raiya was born on December 9 last year, weighing 7lb, and is now a healthy ten-week-old girl
From the age of 20, Ms Baker's miscarriages took place one after another, between five and eight weeks after conception. Doctors told her it was 'just one of those things' but Ms Baker was convinced she must have a treatable problem.
She said: 'Emotionally it was a rollercoaster. Every time I got pregnant I was hoping this was the one and it wasn't going to end in a miscarriage.
'I never gave up. I was desperate for a baby, so I persevered.'
She said she was encouraged by the fact she fell pregnant so easily and said: 'Deep down I always thought it would be a little problem that could be cured.'
She discussed the possibility of adoption with her partner, Lee Gibson, a martial arts instructor. But then, after 17 miscarriages, her best friend's mother read a newspaper article about Dr Hassan Shehata who was doing pioneering work at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. She contacted him for help in 2006 and was referred for treatment Dr Shehata, a specialist in recurrent miscarriages, said: 'Eighteen miscarriages is a huge number. This is the most unusual case I've come across.
'You're more likely to win the lottery than have 18 miscarriages through bad luck. Therefore there must be an underlying cause.' A specialist test, available only at Epsom, in Liverpool and in Chicago in the U.S., showed she was suffering from a fairly common problem, thought to affect about 15 per cent of women.
Ms Baker had high levels of a subtype of white blood cell, known as natural killer (NK) cells, which are responsible for protection from viruses.
Because Ms Baker's NK cells were too aggressive, rather than protecting the pregnancy they mistook the foetus for a foreign body and attacked it.
Dr Shehata's treatment, using steroids, is pioneering because it starts before conception and the doses involved are higher than previously used.
Ms Baker fell pregnant for an 18th time but her troubles were not over.
During the pregnancy it was discovered she was diabetic and the high sugar levels caused by the steroids resulted in another miscarriage. Dr Shehata said: 'The emotion that goes with every miscarriage is huge. Every time it's heartbreaking. A lot of people would give up so it's an amazing story in itself that she persevered.
'She's always smiling and she's willing to try and that makes life easier. She's a dream patient.' The doctor was able to adjust her levels of insulin and the next time her pregnancy was successful. Ms Baker said she is revelling in her role, blessed with a baby who sleeps from 10pm to 6am. She said: 'I absolutely love it. I enjoy every moment. It's so precious. I can't believe she's here and she's mine.' Asked about her partner, Mr Gibson, 31, a karate and kickboxing instructor with the Sama Organisation, she said: 'He dotes on her. She's his little princess'.
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