A NEW mum who developed a life-threatening condition while pregnant has thanked hospital staff for saving her and her baby's life.

Tess Smith, 23, of Huntington, was given an emergency caesarean when she became severely ill with pre-eclampsia, suffering sight loss, pain and dangerously high blood pressure.

Her son Joseph Edward Viney was delivered ten weeks before his due date and weighing just 2oz 11lbs.

While he initially appeared healthy, doctors discovered he had a hole in his lung and he became seriously unwell in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at York Hospital.

Now more than three months on and thanks to the care they received, Joseph is a healthy 8lbs and has been allowed home with his parents Tess and Mathew Viney, 27.

Tess said: "The doctors and the nurses of the Special Care Baby Unit were fantastic. I can't sing their praises enough.

"It was tough and heartbreaking but I can't emphasise enough how good they were in York Hospital - they saved me and they saved my baby."

Tess had been in York Hospital as nurses had picked up signs she was suffering from pre-eclampsia. She was being closely monitored and was quickly taken in for a caesarean when her condition started to deteriorate.

She said: "For my mum and fiancé it was a horrible time because they were seeing me deteriorate before their eyes and they couldn't do anything about it.

"I remember I cried in the wheelchair on the way to have the C-Section but then I thought, it's not about me it's about the baby, he needs to be okay and he was, his heart was steady."

Remembering the birth, she said: "He came out and he screamed and me and my fiancé burst into tears as we knew he was okay. They showed him to me and said 'here he is, now we need to take him away'.

"My partner went too so I was on my own but the team were like mother figures to me. They kept talking to me and trying to make it as normal as possible. That really helped me."

A day later it was discovered that Joseph had a hole in his lung. A doctor warned the couple that it was not clear how the baby would cope with the condition. But Joseph - who was helped to breathe with a ventilator and then a CPAP machine - rallied and gradually got better and healthier and able to breathe on his own.

Tess said she was full of gratitude to the medical team in the maternity ward and SCBU who helped them at every stage, giving them all the information and support they needed.

To thank the unit, Sue Rhodes - Tess' mum - has secured a £500 donation from her employer, Emo Oil.

She asked the oil and fuel distributor to donate the money to York SCBU to help towards specialist training for staff and state-of-the-art equipment, such as a new ventilator which will cost more than £43,000.

Sue said: “I can’t find the words to express how grateful I am to all the staff at the Special Care Baby Unit. Not only did they give my grandson expert, life-saving care – they also sensitively tended to every need of his parents, Matt and Tess, and mine too, during a really stressful time."

Sister Ann Elliot, from SCBU, said: “We are so pleased to hear that Joseph is doing well since he went home and his family had such a good experience with us. It’s lovely to hear such positive feedback from families and our staff really appreciate it.”

What is pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after their baby is delivered.

Early signs include having high blood pressure and protein in your urine.

In some cases, further symptoms can develop, including: swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands caused by fluid retention (oedema), severe headache, vision problems, pain just below the ribs.

Although many cases are mild, the condition can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if it is not monitored and treated. The earlier pre-eclampsia is diagnosed and monitored, the better the outlook for mother and baby.