Mum hopes to raise awareness of virus

Renae Donald, who was born with congenital CMV.
Renae Donald, who was born with congenital CMV.

A young mother is aiming to raise awareness of a virus that has left her daughter with continuous health problems.

Rebekka Donald’s life changed last January when she found out she was pregnant.

The 19-year-old’s joy was short-lived when she discovered during her 20-week scan that she had lost her waters and doctors told her there was only a slim chance of her baby surviving.

“I was determined to give my baby a chance, but they wouldn’t help me until I was 23 weeks pregnant,” said Rebekka, of Newbiggin.

“Weeks felt like months, it was torture.

“I continued enjoying my pregnancy until 35 weeks when my waters went for the second time.”

Rebekka was rushed to hospital where her daughter Renae was born with a rash and breathing difficulties, and was taken to intensive care.

When Renae was three days old she was diagnosed with a virus called congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV).

“I was told I had caught CMV during my pregnancy where is was causing horrific damage to my unborn baby, leaving her brain damaged, with hearing loss, a small head, enlarged liver and spleen, and breathing and feeding problems,” said Rebekka.

“There is no cure for CMV, but with specialist help in all areas we are now seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

“Although life’s a constant battle for Renae we never thought we’d be at this point today.

“I will never forget those few horrible months, but now we want to raise awareness to pregnant mothers this infection is out there and we need to raise awareness to stop it spreading and causing the damage it did for our family.”

Rebekka is organising a sponsored walk in Newcastle on July 18, and a family fun day in Newbiggin in August.