Olivia Violet Galwey’s Story

My name is Chantel Galwey and this is my daughter Olivia Violet Galwey. My water broke at 24 weeks 2 days and I was flown to a larger hospital with a NICU to prepare. We stayed on hospital bed rest until 27 weeks 6 days when I got an infection in my uterus and it became an emergency to get Olivia out. I was put under General Anesthetic and when I woke up I was told my 1017 gram (2lb 4oz) daughter was doing well and on 6 liters of CPAP and only air.

Olivia was treated with a week course of antibiotics to prevent the infection spreading from utero. It was confirmed there was GBS(Group B Strep) on both sides of the placenta that caused Chorioamnionitis.

Olivia had a seemingly uneventful life. At 2 weeks old she started getting some respiratory distress and needed small amounts of oxygen, occasionally needing to be increased. This was her only issue, she was stacking on weight and doing everything right. At 35 days old she had doubled her birth weight! On day 37 at 12pm we noticed a light bruise along her hairline/forehead but presumed it was due to her new CPAP hats that had velcro attachments in that area so we said it would be kept an eye on. At 6pm Olivia had a temp of 39.9 celcius, 37.5 is considered the start of a high temp. So she was unwrapped and clothes taken off. At 9pm she started presenting a bright purple rash in her groin and hard swelling.

A doctor was requested and she had her first review then, thought to be maybe a skin infection they took blood cultures and started administering three different antibiotics as the rash quickly spread and she started to destat. Her oxygen needed to be increased until she needed to be ventilated within only a couple of hours of review.

Olivia was transferred back to intensive care from special care and quickly deteriorated. Her blood cultures were expected to give result around 48 hours, but within 5 hours they had grown bacteria – it was confirmed GBS so they ceased two of the antibiotics and targeted that infection. By midnight she had received a blood transfusion. The following morning at 6am a plasma transfusion. I was told if she didn’t start to respond to the antibiotics then I would need to seriously consider taking her off life support.

I called her father, who hadn’t yet met her as we weren’t together, and he flew straight up. By the time he got here we were told she had less than 20% chance of pulling through. I spent the night sitting next to her bed and her stats continued to fluctuate and they couldn’t control her blood pressure. Olivia was on maximum dose to try and bring the pressure up but it was barely sitting on the minimum. She received a second plasma transfusion. Her morphine dose was increased to double the standard dose for her size, and despite that and the added Midazolam to sedate her, she was still woke and trying to scream in pain. The doctors said Olivia shouldn’t even be able to open her eyes. By now her entire body was hard swollen.

We had already made the decision to move her to Palliative Care but they wanted a head ultrasound first, which showed collections of pus in her brain and a hemorrhage. Her urine output had all but stopped which showed her kidneys were failing also.

Olivia’s father got to hold her for the first time before she was handed to me for skin to skin. I knew I had to make the decision to remove her life support but I wasn’t prepared at all. We cuddled for a couple of hours and then Olivia’s respiratory stats started dropping fast, she reached 60% and wasn’t coming back up so I knew she had made the decision for me. I told them it was time and she started removing the ventilator, before it was out she had dropped to 30%. I held her so tight as she passed. No one prepared me for how long it would take..  and at 5:16pm on day 39 of life she was declared dead, less than 48 hours from her first review.

1 Comment

  1. This is exactly the same as my story. Hope you get the strength to cope with this situation. I know myself that it’s not an easy decision to make. It took me a whole night to decide and finally said yes and I still feel guilty and that was 4 years ago. But I know deep in my heart that was the best for her.

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