A student who had no idea she was pregnant until she gave birth in a hospital toilet has welcomed her “miracle” baby – but blasted her GP for allegedly missing chances to spot she was expecting.
Lalene Malik was rushed to A&E at Northwick Park Hospital in northwest London by her family after suffering an excruciating stomach ache at home in Greenford, west London, on March 26.
The 23-year-old, who said she had been prescribed the contraceptive pill five months earlier and took two negative pregnancy tests in February, believed she must be constipated.
But her mother, Sumra, had an “intuition” that something was wrong when her daughter began crying in pain after going to the hospital bathroom while waiting to be seen and sounded the alarm with nearby doctors, Ms Malik said.
Ms Malik was about to flush when baby Mohammed Ibrahim’s tiny arm was spotted in the bowl, leaving her terrified that her and her son’s lives were in danger. She believes the baby may have been stuck for up to seven minutes before he was rescued by medics.
“I was gone. My mind was blank. I was put in another room because obviously I was crying and my mum was crying. It was a complete shock and a trauma for both of us and I felt that my life was in danger,” she said.
“(My mum) started crying and (said) to me: ‘Don’t you know you have a baby?’ From then on I was pale.”
Doctors who retrieved the baby said he “looked lifeless” and was not breathing, but resuscitation efforts were successful.
Dr Ewa Grocholski, who helped to save Ibrahim by giving him chest compressions after getting him out of the bowl, said it was the “most amazing experience of (her) medical career”.
“Luckily we caught it in time,” she told the PA news agency.
“I’ve never seen (a baby be born) in such circumstances. I’ve seen young ladies like Lalene before coming to A&E not knowing they’re pregnant and delivering in the A&E department, but it was always in a more safe place. It was on a bed or it was slower, so we would have noticed they were giving birth before it was happening.”
She described Ms Malik as a “hero” and said it was “incredible” she had gone through labor despite having no prior knowledge of the pregnancy.
Ibrahim was born full-term and is now healthy after he was given oxygen and monitored carefully by hospital staff.
Ms Malik has described her son as a “miracle” baby but accused her family doctor, Elm Trees surgery in Greenford, of failing to carry out tests properly which could have revealed she was pregnant.
“If I had known I was pregnant, I would have cherished those moments going shopping, getting stuff ready for the baby,” she said. Her husband was abroad at the time and in “complete shock” when he learned of the birth, Ms Malik added.
The student, who is taking a masters in international relations at Roehampton University, said she had not been planning on having a child and had taken the pill from October to January after it was prescribed by a doctor.
She said she returned to her GP a number of times after experiencing symptoms including weight gain and a shortness of breath, and had stopped taking the contraception.
Ms Malik said she was given a blood test at the surgery in March but later told it had been botched and the results were unavailable.
“I called back three days later and they said ‘oh, we can’t detect anything because the one who took the blood test didn’t shake (it) properly, so come back three to six months later’,” she said.
Two weeks later, Ibrahim was born, Ms Malik said, praising doctors and nurses at Northwick Park Hospital for their efforts in getting him healthy.
The mother added: “It’s a blessing and I’m happy for the baby, but honestly the surgery should have said something because I told them I was married and I wanted to progress with my masters.”
She said she is determined to complete her university course but has had to defer until July to look after little Ibrahim.
The Elm Trees surgery has said Ms Malik’s experience falls below its expected standards of care and the matter will be investigated.
The practice said in a statement: “We are very sorry to learn of Ms Malik’s experience, this falls below the standards of care we expect from our services. Please be assured that this matter will be fully investigated.”