Thursday 22 March 2018

'It was an awful three weeks' - Irish mum (26) lapses into coma hours after her baby was born

Lisa Cullen was told she had a brain tumour last November when she was 33 weeks pregnant
Lisa Cullen was told she had a brain tumour last November when she was 33 weeks pregnant
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A 26-year-old Irish woman who was 33 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, lapsed into a coma on the same day her baby was born by caesarean section.

Lisa Cullen (26) from Drumkeeran, County Leitrim underwent an elected C-section on November 30 to protect the life of her baby boy Kayden.

Kayden was born on November 30. Later that day, Lisa, who lives in Yonkers, New York, underwent brain surgery to remove 60 per cent of her tumour, but she didn't wake up afterwards.

Her mother Gabrielle, who is currently in the US to support Lisa, told “I was preparing my bag to come out on Jan 23 for when the baby was born and I was picking all the bits and pieces you need for a baby. On the Sunday evening at 7pm we got the phone call.”

“It was awful news to get, and she’d been doing so good. She was 33 weeks pregnant and had never missed a day of work. She did have headaches but she thought it wasn’t unusual to have headaches while pregnant.”

Lisa remained in the coma for three weeks. Finally, just before Christmas she woke up.

“It was an awful three weeks. Prayer is just such a powerful thing,” Gabrielle said.

“It was a tricky operation for them here. To have the baby and the surgery at the one time, it was tricky, but they couldn’t get over the fact that she hadn’t really recovered from the brain surgery.”

Now, Lisa, who worked as a bartender in The Heritage pub in Yonkers, is in rehab and is also in treatment to try and shrink the remaining 40 pc of the tumour.

“She’s doing good. She’s coming along. She’s improving every day. She’s been able to move out onto the edge of the bed now and she’s getting physio. She’s started her radio treatment to get the last of the tumour. There’s still 40pc of it left. When the doctors operated they got 60pc of it.”

“She spoke for the first time on the day before Christmas Eve. It was a Christmas present that we were wishing for.”

Lisa’s boyfriend Paul Friel proposed to her on New Year’s Eve. The couple are planning to get married on April 5, which is Lisa’s birthday.

The young mum is also enjoying being able to hold her six-week-old son.

“Kayden is doing great. He’s doing fantastic,” Gabrielle added.

Lisa’s friends in New York have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for her rehabilitation and cancer treatment.

Gabrielle said: “I don’t know what it’s going to cost, but we’re not thinking about it. The main thing is that she gets the treatment.”

A friend of the Cullen family Sharon Brady said: “A few people got together to do this benefit to help raise money. Staying for a month in ICU, then chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it’s quite expensive.”

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