Nihad Abdelaziz is the first patient to be recruited for Borne’s initial clinical trial programme for pregnant women. The programme will test a combination of cAMP agonist, aminophylline, with progesterone as a potential treatment to delay the onset of preterm labour.
We spoke to Nihad as she came to the end of her treatment at 35 weeks pregnant, as she prepared for the birth of her third baby. She has one daughter, Yara, and lost her second baby at 22 weeks. Nihad has been monitored by Dr Natasha Singh, a consultant obstetrician and Maria Amparo Buaki Sogo, Research Associate Midwife running ProgrAm’s Clinic.
Borne: What does the programme mean to you Nihad? Why did you decide to volunteer?
Nihad: I lost my second baby at 22 weeks which was a very horrible experience. It was just so sudden and I don’t know why it happened. I didn’t really get much of an explanation and this time around I thought, I am going to give this baby every bit of a fighting chance, even if it means leaving work or being on bedrest, which I have been doing. It has been very tough and having a stitch in and taking the medication: it was all overwhelming at first. I thought I was just coming for a routine appointment to see the Consultant and they were going to explain what happened the last time!
But I think coming on this programme has helped me. Its made me a stronger person, not to just think about myself, think about my child and my daughter, because I really want her to have a sibling. And for it to be a girl as well, would be a bonus, hopefully.
Borne: What’s the process been like for you?
Nihad: The consultants here have been really helpful and they have guided and supported me. The medication hasn’t been great but it’s amazing in terms of keeping my baby alive and keeping everything together. I think my family has had to put up with a lot of tantrums and mood swings. But now I’m off the medication, I’m definitely feeling different to how I was before in terms of feeling a bit more pain and pressure and that’s everything I was expecting and knew was going to happen.
I’ve been closely monitored, especially through the NHS, you don’t necessarily get that sort of support. But the staff have explained things along the way and I’ve been coming to the routine appointments, which I actually looked forward to because they were the only reason I could leave the house. I was literally working from home and not able to go anywhere else. So looking back at it now, and now that I’m near the end, it has been a good experience.
Natasha: Well we’re proud of you, you have done really well. You have done everything we’ve asked, you took your medication and you combatted the side effects. You’ve given your child the best start in life.
Borne: You’re helping Borne with their research to prevent pre-term birth from happening. What inspired you to support us in this way?
Nihad: At first it was for my own reasons but then I realised it was going through such a traumatic experience of losing a baby and then being offered something that could actually help me and help others. I thought why not? What have I got to lose? I’ve lost a baby, I’ve been through a painful experience, this can’t be any more painful than that was. So, for me to do the programme and then it be offered to help other women, is kind of inspiring and rewarding, isn’t it?
Borne: What outcome would you like to see from this project? What do you hope the Borne research team will be able to achieve?
Nihad: I hope they can help other women to get through a full-term pregnancy, just like I did and support and help them, especially losing a child and not knowing the reasons. And not necessarily, it might not be a medical reason. These things happen, but to be able to help with medicine is amazing, to get women past that hurdle.
Natasha: No one ever really explains why you’ve lost a baby. We are really getting to understand that preterm labour is not just one cause, there are many causes. I think for the first time we are able to offer women some hope. Professor Mark Johnson (Borne’s founder) and myself see women regularly who have lost their babies and with this study, we’ve been able to say to our patients, we can offer you something else, not just a stitch, not just progesterone, we can offer you another alternative that can probably help.
And hopefully what you went through the first time you won’t have to go through again. So, to take them through that journey, support them, do something positive, rather than giving them bad news we are giving them good news. And I think for us that has been the most rewarding part.
Borne: Maria, what has this programme meant to you being the research midwife?
Maria: As a midwife, it’s something really different, because you are more hands on when you do midwifery in the labour ward and in the clinic. With this programme, I’m able to provide care throughout the pregnancy as I go through the journey with the mother. So, you do create a close bond and you want to do as much as you can for them so there’s a happy outcome. Having the opportunity to work with Professor Johnson and Dr Singh is inspiring and seeing them fighting so hard to avoid preterm birth and giving women the best chance, I want to be part of that. Meeting Nihad and women like her has been the most rewarding part of my midwifery.
Following our interview we are pleased to announce Nihad gave birth to her daughter Dana at 38 weeks, weighing a healthy 3KG. Nihad and the team would like to thank everyone who has supported Borne and enabled this programme to take place.