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Devastated mum tells of heartbreak as baby son dies in her arms

By Charles Gray & Chloe Burrell

A devastated mum has told of the tragic loss of her two-day-old son after a rare condition caused a hole to develop in his diaphragm while he was still in the womb.

Sara Harrold gave birth to her son, Arlo Jay Brian, five weeks prematurely on March 15 but he tragically died just two days later after doctors fought hard to save his life.

Sara, from Wakefield, said that "everything was normal" with the pregnancy until she went for a scan at 20 weeks and medics asked her to come back another time because her son was "so wriggly" and "moved so much".

Sara went alone for a second scan two days later as she had promised her son, 11, that he would be the first to see the pictures, Yorkshire Live reports.

Sara Harrold found out 20 weeks into her pregnancy that her son was suffering from a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (Sara Harrold)

However, staff again struggled to get pictures and Sara was asked again to return again another time.

When she came back, Sara gave her name at the reception before she was escorted into a separate room where a doctor showed her a worrying scan of her baby.

Sara said: "He said 'I'm sorry but you need to look at this picture' and then said he's got congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and that it's life-threatening."

The doctor explained that CDH is a defect in an unborn baby's diaphragm that occurs when the diaphragm does not close the right way during the baby's development, meaning abdominal organs push through the defect into the chest cavity.

Sara said: "I asked if this meant he was going to die and he said 'I can't say. You will have to wait."

Sara admitted the news was "devastating" and she rushed out to get some fresh air and "broke down outside and rang my friend", who was there in a matter of minutes. She said: "I calmed myself down in the hope I could get some more information.

"They referred me to Leeds and I had to sit and wait until I heard from them which was the hardest thing. I had my son asking questions and all that was going through my head was that he didn't have a chance."

Following a scan in Leeds, Sara was told that her unborn son had a hole in the left side of his diaphragm and "part of his bowels were in his chest". Doctors told her that he had a 50/50 per cent chance of living.

Sara said: "From that point on the pregnancy was just stress and not knowing what was going to happen rather than a happy, waiting-to-meet-your-baby sort of thing."

During the pregnancy, Sara also got diagnosed with polyhydramnios, which is a condition that causes excessive fluid to build around the baby in the uterus and can also lead to giving birth prematurely. "I was huge to be honest", Sara said.

Sara went into labour five weeks prematurely and medics found that Arlo's heart rate kept dropping and they struggled to bring it back up. Following an emergency C-section it was found that Arlo's umbilical cord had wrapped around him which was "probably what was causing his heart to struggle".

Sara Harrold with her son Arlo Jay Brian, who was born five weeks prematurely with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (Sara Harrold)

She said that her son, who she named Arlo Jay Brian, was intubated and doctors "did everything they could" but he sadly died in her arms two days after his birth on March 17. Sara said: "He fought really hard for a few days and then the doctors said it was time for the family to come in and say goodbye to him."

Sara's siblings, parents, grandparents and best friend all came in to say goodbye to Arlo. She said: "I brought my son in to come and see him. You don't realise when you are there in the moment how much it affects the whole family.

"It's hard knowing you are coming to meet someone and say goodbye to them at the same time. My son didn't understand what was going on and as a parent going through that and then having to be there for him - it's really hard.

Arlo fought hard after being born prematurely but sadly died two days after being born (Sara Harrold)

"A lot of people have been there to help me and they have held me together. When you go through something like this you don't realise how much it tears you apart. You have to have people around you."

Sara's family and friends helped her organise a funeral for Arlo and his casket was taken to a cemetery in Normanton in a horse-drawn carriage.

Sara's friend Claire Sands has now set up a GoFundMe page to help with the funding of a headstone for Arlo. Claire said: "We want to help ease the financial pressures as much as possible and give his mummy and brother a beautiful place for Arlo to rest and for his mummy, brother and family to visit."

Sara said: "My family and friends have been amazing with helping but they are not in a position to do everything with their own families and bills so Claire set up the page to help out financially.

"On top of losing someone you don't realise the financial costs for funerals and deaf certificates when you do lose them. For me personally I found an amazing funeral directors called R J Burgess and just knowing that such kind people were helping to look after my baby has meant everything to me."

To view the GoFundMe page or to donate click here.

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Dive Deeper:
Mum's heartbreak as two-day-old baby with rare condition dies in her arms
Baby Arlo Jay Brian had a 50/50 chance of survival after a hole was found in his diaphragm, but died…
Gateshead mum's heartbreaking tribute to baby boy who died following battle with sepsis
"He wasn't just my son, he was my best friend, my sidekick, my everything."
Woman whose intestines moved into her thoracic cavity after accident operated upon
HYDERABAD
Premature baby born at 23 weeks with hand size as father’s fingernail
Little Elsie, now eight months, was born at just 23 weeks and is now thriving after 70 days on life-support
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Coronation Street star Sam Aston's wife Briony gives birth to baby girl
Coronation Street's Sam Aston and his wife Briony have welcomed a daughter into the world - which means their son…
Martin King's wife Jenny McCarthy shares 'amazing' cancer update after brain surgery
Jenny has been very open with her health journey, having previously had a brain tumour removed successfully in 2011
Get all your news in one place