Turning personal tragedy into a fundraising feat

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One of our Satsuma segments is taking on a 300-mile challenge this summer in memory of her baby girl. Head of PR Lauren Gardner has signed up to the London to Paris cycling challenge alongside her dad. The four-day ride in aid Action Medical Research for Children will see the pair finish the epic feat down the Champs-Élysées and under the Eiffel Tower. For Lauren, Action Medical Research for Children is a cause close to her and her family’s heart. Here’s why:

My husband Mark and I were so excited to fall pregnant with our second child in 2016. Already mum and dad to one-year-old Esme, we couldn’t wait to give her a brother or sister and we eagerly awaited our first trimester screening to hear the heartbeat and coo over the little toes and fingers on the ultrasound.

But as is common for so many prospective parents, our 12-week scan in November didn’t go according to plan. Yes, we heard a heartbeat but our blissful happy family moment changed dramatically when we were told that something wasn’t right. Being ushered into a side room to speak to a doctor, we still held on to some hope that they just wanted a second opinion or that the technician had got it wrong, but heartbreakingly, we were told that there were serious concerns and we needed to go to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for further testing.

A week later, the experts there carried out a CVS test, inserting a large needle into the placenta to take cells. We had spent seven agonising days googling everything we could find on genetic abnormalities and searching for any positive stories we could find.

But the examinations confirmed our worst fears. Our baby – now 14 weeks old – had been diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality, Turner Syndrome, which only affects girls and causes problems during foetal development. I remember thinking this just couldn’t be real, it couldn’t be happening. According to statistics, only 1-3% of babies diagnosed with Turner Syndrome in pregnancy survive birth and the majority end in miscarriage or stillbirth. We were told we could continue with the pregnancy knowing we’d probably lose her or make the decision to end it.

And so, following conversations with our consultant and our family, we made the incredibly heart-breaking decision to have a medical termination, something we never dreamed we’d ever have to do.

On December 11, 2016, Freya was born at 15 weeks. A date that is forever in our minds.

Our experience is something I’ve struggled to talk about, and this is the first time I’ve written any of it down. But if sharing this might help someone else navigate this isolating, frightening experience, then it’s worth the tears and the pain. We need more awareness and more support for everyone affected by it because nobody should go through it alone.
There is no cure for Turner Syndrome. But Action Medical Research for Children continues to research this – and conditions like this.

To donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lauren-and-keith

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