Parents campaign in memory of their daughter

Abigail was just three-days-old when she died Credit: Family photo

Two parents who lost their baby daughter to a rare condition just three days after she was born are hoping their story will help to save other babies.

Jamie and Rachael Bonser are campaigning for hospitals to check for the condition at every pregnant woman's 20-week scan.

The condition is called Vasa Praevia and is caused by the placental or umbilical blood vessels crossing the birth canal.

It is not mandatory for hospitals to check for the condition.

The couple are trying to change that.

They believe if the check was done as part of the 20-week scan lives could be saved.

They were trying for a baby for two and a half years and after undergoing fertility treatment Rachael discovered she was pregnant.

She suffered no abnormalities during her pregnancy and so had no idea she had the condition.

The former nurse was told at her 12-week scan that she had a low-lying placenta but that it was nothing to worry about and would likely move throughout her pregnancy but the 20 week scan revealed it had not moved.

"At my 36 week scan my placenta had moved a little but enough to have a normal delivery. So I went away thinking, great everything is fine."

But Rachael woke one night shortly after to find her bed wet from what she thought was her waters breaking.

"I thought my waters had broken during the night so I got up and walked to turn the light on, then I realised it was blood."

Rachael was rushed to hospital where she had an emergency caesarian after doctors found her baby's heart-rate was dropping. As soon as their baby, who they named Abigail, was born Rachael says she knew something was wrong.

"I can't tell you what it's like, sitting and waiting for a cry but just hearing deathly silence. "I knew when they shouted for drugs there was something wrong, but I kept thinking, she'll be okay though, babies don't die. "I asked Jamie what he could see, he said they were pumping Abigail's chest."

It took twelve minutes for Abigail to take her first breath.

She was taken to the neonatal unit and placed on a ventilator where she was given many blood transfusions having lost 90% of her blood.

"It was surreal, she was hooked up to tubes. "She looked the healthiest baby on the unit yet she was the most sick, it's not how you expect to see your baby for the first time."

The next day she began to suffer from seizures that the doctors were unable to control with drugs.

"She was having continuous fits over and over again, then on Sunday night they said if you're going to christen her do it now, there's nothing more we can do."

When Abigail was just three days old, doctors told Rachael and Jamie that her heart-rate had dropped and as they held her for the first time she passed away.

Abigail lost 90% of her blood supply Credit: Family photo

"After she passed away we bathed her and put her in her going home outfit and a jumper knitted for her, then we put her in her moses basket we'd bought. We kept thinking any minute now she's going to smile at us, she looked perfect. "We walked out with no baby."

After Abigail's death Jamie and Rachael began researching the condition and the couple have been raising funds for Vasa Praevia Awareness which campaigns for scans at all hospitals.

To date they have raised £5,000 through fundraising events such as pub quizzes and Jamie has run two half-marathons.

Isabelle, now 20-months-old visiting the grave of her sister Abigail Credit: Family photo

Rachael and Jamie were due to marry in September 2010 with Abigail as a flower girl but they postponed the wedding as they said it did not not feel right without Abigail there.

The couple married last year and now have a 20-month-old daughter called Isabelle.

Rachael and Jamie on their wedding day with their second daughter Isabelle Bonser Credit: Family photo

"We are Abigail's voice, recent research shows the condition is more common than first thought. We are not wanting to scare anyone but to raise awareness, especially for anyone suffering from a low-lying placenta. "I'd urge any pregnant woman to go and ask to be checked at their 20 week scan, it takes an extra two minutes."

To find out more on this condition or to donate go to the charity website or to learn more about Jamie and Rachael's story see here.