Pregnant women should get the swine flu vaccination

A woman who saved both her own and her unborn child's life by having an emergency caesarean section after contracting swine flu has urged pregnant women to get the vaccine.

Mother of four Audrey Murray was admitted to hospital while only 28 weeks pregnant after being struck down by the virus.

Murray, from Newbridge in Co Kildare, has spoken out about her agony after her family were told both she and her child faced possible death.

"I just had a sore throat, but not much else in the way of symptoms. I went to a doctor initially and he prescribed me with Augmentin for my throat. Soon after, the situation got worse. I was having serious difficulty breathing.

"Within the space of a few days, I could hardly breathe at all. My husband brought me to the GP in Naas, where they put me on oxygen and called an ambulance immediately. I was transferred straight to the Coombe Hospital in Dublin."

At that point, Murray said, she was unsure what was wrong with her, as it felt "nothing like an ordinary flu".

"I had constant headaches and pains, but I wasn't lethargic and it felt nothing like the common flu in that I had no temperature and no fever. I didn't know what was wrong, but a swab was taken to see if it was swine flu."

After a brief period where her condition improved, Murray again fell ill and was transferred to St James's hospital, where she was diagnosed with swine flu.

"The breathing problems and the other symptoms got worse again, and doctors brought me to an isolated ward in intensive care and I was seen by respiratory consultants. I knew it was severe and I was really starting to worry about my baby.

Murray spent 10 days in intensive care, where two consultants met her husband, Patrick, and told him he could lose both his wife and child.

"I was being pumped with drugs, antibiotics, everything. The pain got even worse, and I remember begging my husband to 'please take the pain away'. The consultant agreed to take the baby out by C-section two days later, making sure to arrange doctors and ambulances so that the whole process would go smoothly."

Baby Robert was born at 10:20am on Friday, 30 October, in St James's and was transferred to Temple Street children's hospital where he was cleared of swine flu after a day.

"I recovered slowly, and Robert was taken back to the Coombe intensive care unit at just two pounds, where he still is now."

Murray has advised pregnant women to educate themselves on swine flu and take the vaccine.

"I don't think pregnant women understand the dangers of swine flu enough. In my opinion, every pregnant woman should get the vaccine. The pain I went through will always stay with me, and when this happened to me the vaccine was not available but had it been I would have taken it."

She also says that once a pregnant woman falls ill with swine flu, she will be "off her feet in a matter of days".

"Only that I had the caesarean section did the two of us survive. It is absolutely vital that pregnant women educate themselves about the vaccine."

She is now concentrating on looking after her other children, improving her own condition and spending as much time as possible with her newborn baby in intensive care.