My Newborn Son Died And Gave Another Baby Life

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My Newborn Son Died And Gave Another Baby Life

Nothing could prepare Valentina Daprile for losing her son, Angelo Ray, when he was eight days old. But she and her husband Luigi were determined to donate his organs so that another baby could live. It was something the hospital had never considered before.

Valentina will always remember the kindness in the doctor’s voice and the careful way he delivered the worst news a parent could ever hear.

“I’m so sorry, but there’s nothing we can do for your baby.”

The staff at the newborn intensive care unit (Nicu) at King’s College Hospital had done everything they could but Angelo Ray would never be able to survive without life support and an MRI scan showed no brain activity.

Thinking back to that day in July 2016, she says it felt as though her whole world was collapsing.

Angelo Ray was just down the corridor resting in his incubator. His mother Valentina wondered how she would go on without him. She hadn’t even been able to hold him yet.

“I was so upset to imagine my baby thinking, ‘We have been together for nine months, where is my mummy, why has she left me?'” she says.

A week before Valentina had been due to give birth she had collapsed and stopped breathing, a wave of blue spreading up her body. Her husband Luigi called 999 and followed instructions on how to resuscitate his wife. It was the first day of the school summer holidays and so all this was witnessed by their six-year-old son, Leone.

Until that day, Valentina’s pregnancy had been complication-free and she had been planning a water birth at home. Instead, Angelo Ray was delivered at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south London, via an emergency Caesarean section and Valentina was rushed away for life-saving blood transfusions immediately afterwards.

It would be another 24 hours until Valentina got to see her baby, because she was so unwell and he was transferred for specialist care to King’s College Hospital in Camberwell. Luigi would spend the days going between the two hospitals until Valentina had recovered enough to be transferred to King’s too.

By that time doctors had established just how badly Angelo Ray’s brain had been affected by the lack of oxygen in the hours before his birth.

“When the doctor spoke to us the toughest thing to accept was that there was absolutely nothing I could do to save my baby. Literally nothing,” Valentina says.

“That is Angelo’s legacy – one of heartbreak, courage and pushing of boundaries.”

In the weeks that followed her son’s death Valentina says she felt like an alien.

“The world and everyone around me looked different. If I saw people in the street smiling and laughing I would think, ‘I’ve lost a baby, there is nothing to laugh about'”

“I made sure I took the time to grieve. I cried, I stayed in bed, I got angry.”

Slowly, with Luigi and Leone by her side, Valentina began to feel stronger and more able to face the world again. She got a clean bill of health from the doctor and was told it would be safe to have another baby, if that is what she wanted.

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“It would have been very easy at that point to let fear run my life and think, ‘It wasn’t meant to be, no more kids, my life is finished’. But my life is not finished,” she says.

In August 2018 Mattia was born, two years after Angelo Ray. He was born in perfect health and is now a spirited 17-month-old.

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Mattia joined his parents on a lantern-lit walk of remembrance during Baby Loss Awareness Week last year and will grow up knowing he is the third of three brothers.

“I want Mattia to know his brother was a special baby, not destined for this Earth,” says Valentina.

“He came and gifted other people with life.”

My Newborn Son Died And Gave Another Baby Life

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