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25 June 2019, 12:06 | Updated: 25 June 2019, 13:21
A Manchester mum expecting her first baby girl suddenly collapsed and died before getting the chance to meet her.
Rachel Molloy was just 36 when she passed away at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester last month. Within a few hours, her husband Nick went from being an excited daddy to a widower who faced losing his newborn daughter too.
Rachel hadn’t known she was expecting a little girl, instead choosing to wait until the birth to find out. It was one of the last things Nick was able to whisper to her before she died.
“If we had a girl we’d planned to name her Isabelle Rey,” said Nick, 35. “But when I knew what was going to happen I changed it to Isabelle Rachel instead.
“Rach never got to meet our little girl. It breaks my heart to think that Isabelle will never get to meet her mother. But I know Rach’s memory will live on in her children and everyone who knew her.
“Rach and I have had so many amazing adventures together and through thick and thin have always been there for each other. I’ve never trusted anyone as much as Rach. She was the light of my life and my true soulmate. I can’t imagine this world without her, because she was my world.”
Rachel suffered from a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm – a rare complication of pregnancy that often leads to the death of both mother and baby. Maternal mortality rates are around 75% while fetal mortality rates are approximately 95%1.
Rachel hadn’t suffered from any symptoms during her pregnancy which had been just as smooth and uneventful as the first pregnancy. Just days before she died, Rachel, Nick and James (who turned three on 7th June) had enjoyed a day out on Easter Monday, taking advantage of the glorious weather by spending the day outdoors.
But on 24th April, when Rachel was almost at full term and just six days away from her due date, she started having abdominal pains. Nick drove her to Wythenshawe Hospital but then the aneurysm ruptured and Rachel collapsed in the car park.
“By the time she arrived she was in all sorts of bad shape,” explained Nick. “Staff ran over to help us and got her into hospital and they found a heartbeat, but she wasn’t breathing. Then they had to c-section Isabelle out because Rachel’s heart had stopped.”
Rachel suffered a cardiac arrest and was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). The machine essentially takes over the patients’ heart and lungs when normal resuscitation methods have proved to be unsuccessful. Sadly it wasn’t able to save Rachel and she passed away in the early hours of 25th April.
As Rachel’s body had started to shut down before the c-section, Isabelle was also affected. It’s not known what lasting effects this will have on her, but she no longer needs the support of a ventilator. She is currently being cared for by teams on the neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, but the long term consequences of any brain damage won’t be known for quite some time.
“You hear of tragedies but they don’t really hit home for you – they happen on the news and in films,” said Nick. “But when it happens to you, you just can’t believe it. If this hadn’t happened to Rach then Isabelle would have been fine – she would have been a little early, but she was a healthy weight and had no development problems.
“She’s come a long way in the two months, but it’s a very long road ahead.”
It’s the care his wife received at Wythenshawe, and the staff at Saint Mary’s looking after Isabelle who have inspired Nick to raise money for the two charities which support the work of the hospitals – Wythenshawe Hospital Charity and St Mary’s Hospital Charity, both of which come under the umbrella name of Manchester Foundation Trust Charity.
Initially hoping to raise a few hundred pounds, the JustGiving page Nick set up justgiving.com/fundraising/nicholas-molloy19 at has already exceeded £16,700.