Dad Hoping Baby's Touch Will Help Mom Recover From Catatonic State

Two months ago a young Australian couple, Kirsty Chugg and her husband Rohan, were eagerly waiting for the birth of their first child. The pregnancy had been progressing normally, and Kirsty was seven months along -- when their lives turned upside down in a matter of hours.

It was the day after Kirsty's 25th birthday, and her husband came hurrying home from work after receiving some strange messages from his wife. After finding Kirsty in a confused state with a frighteningly high temperature, he rushed her to the hospital where she was eventually placed in an induced coma after she suffered two major seizures.

The diagnosis was autoimmune limbic encephalitis, a rare condition caused when the body produces antibodies against itself. Her baby was born via emergency C-section on June 2, and Kirsty's family has made sure she's been able to visit with her son ever since.

Even though Kirsty is in a catatonic state, and may not even recognize what's going on around her.


Kirsty spent almost three weeks in intensive care after the birth, before being moved to the neurology ward’s epilepsy monitoring room. Today she's being treated with a plasma protein replacement therapy intended to stop her antibodies from attacking her brain, but she can't yet walk or talk. Despite the fact that she's unable to understand that her son Lachlan was born eight weeks early, Kirsty's husband has been bringing the baby to her room every day, and lying him on her chest.

According to Rohan:

I am confident Kirsty knows there’s a baby, I am just not 100% sure she knows it’s hers.

Kirsty's husband is hoping that Lachlan's touch will help aid her recovery, and it sounds like she's making some progress: her nasal gastric tube was removed a few weeks ago. Baby Lachlan -- who was just 3 pounds, 7 ounces at birth -- continues to improve, too, and may be able to go home as early as this week.

As for Kirsty, she has a long, hard road in front of her. She'll need intensive occupational and speech therapy and physiotherapy, and it's unclear when (or if) this new mom will be able to come home and be with her family. Her husband, however, has no intentions of giving up on his wife:

We don't know what the future holds. But I am hopeful she will recover and I don't want her to miss any of the special moments with Lachlan.

Wow, what a heartbreaking story. I feel terrible for this young couple, to be going through such a devastating illness when they should be celebrating the birth of their child together. I'm sure it's impossible to know what's really going on in Kirsty's mind, as she struggles to recover from this condition, but maybe she does know that her baby is alive and well and waiting for her. Maybe she really can feel his touch, and it's helping her fight her way back to health. I hope so. I hope Kirsty's future holds a happy ending, for her, for her baby, and for her faithful husband.

Do you think it's possible that a catatonic patient could know when their baby was in their arms?

Image via The Herald Sun

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