A pregnant mother collapsed in a hospital car park and died soon after from a rare complication just days before she was due to give birth.
Rachel Molloy, 36, suffered from a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm – a rare complication of pregnancy that often leads to the death of both mother and baby.
She and her husband Nick had driven her to the hospital when she began having abdominal pains, believing she was about to go into labour.
Mr Molloy, 35, went from being an excited second-time father-to-be to a widower in fear of losing his newborn baby.
Baby Isabelle was delivered by C-section at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester on April 24. Mrs Molloy will never get to meet her baby because she died the next day.
She didn’t know she was expecting a little girl as she had wanted it to be a surprise, with the news of Isabelle’s arrival one of the last things Mr Molloy ever whispered to his wife before she passed away.
Rachel Molloy, 36, suffered from a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm – a rare complication of pregnancy- in the car park of the hospital at nine months pregnant. Pictured with her husband, Nick, on their wedding day in 2014
Mrs and Mr Molloy had driven her to the hospital when she began having abdominal pains, believing she was about to go into labour. Pictured with her first child, James
Baby Isabelle was delivered by C-section at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester on April 24. Two months on, Isabelle is still being looked after by a neonatal intensive care team
Mr Molloy, from Sale, Greater Manchester, said: ‘She was the light of my life and my true soulmate,’ he said.
‘I can’t imagine this world without her, because she was my world.’
‘Rach never got to meet our little girl.
‘It breaks my heart to think that Isabelle will never get to meet her mother. But I know Rach’s memory will live on in her children and everyone who knew her.’
There were no symptoms leading up to the aneurysm – the pregnancy had been as smooth and uneventful as her first.
Rupture of a splenic artery aneurysm (SAA) is a rare condition which affects the blood vessel that supplies oxygenated blood to the spleen.
It occurs four times more frequently in women compared to men, and 95 per cent of the time during a pregnancy, most commonly during the third trimester
Hormonal and physiologic changes have been proposed to explain the increased incidence of SAA in pregnancy, as oestrogen, progesterone, and relaxin may change the structure of the arterial wall.
Maternal mortality rates are around 75 per cent while fetal mortality rates are approximately 95 per cent.
Just days before, Mr and Mrs Molloy and their son James, three, had enjoyed a day out in the sun on Easter Monday.
But then, on April 24, Mrs Molloy started having abdominal pains, the most common sign of SAA.
Mr Molloy drove her to Wythenshawe Hospital, but the aneurysm ruptured and she collapsed in the car park.
Mrs Molloy wasn’t breathing, her heart had stopped, and Isabelle had to be delivered by C-section. The details of her delivery are unclear.
Her loved ones were told she had suffered a cardiac arrested and she was put on life support.
Tragically, Mrs Molloy could not be saved, and she died in the early hours of the next morning.
Two months on, Isabelle is still being looked after by the neonatal intensive care team at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manchester.
Although she is no longer on a ventilator, the long term consequences of any brain damage won’t be known for quite some time.
Mr Molloy said: ‘You hear of tragedies but they don’t really hit home for you – they happen on the news and in films. But when it happens to you, you just can’t believe it.
‘If this hadn’t happened to Rach then Isabelle would have been fine – she would have been a little early, but she was a healthy weight and had no development problems.
‘She’s come a long way in the two months, but it’s a very long road ahead.’
It has been a difficult time for the family, with June marking James’ third birthday – and also what should have been the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.
The couple met via a dating website in 2009, and a little over a year later, they were off travelling the world together.
Mr Molloy said: ‘It feels like another lifetime now.
‘It was an amazing adventure and we both had the most fantastic time. We both love the outdoors so New Zealand was the perfect place.
‘After travelling together I knew this was the woman I wanted to marry.’
Mr Molloy popped the question on a gondola ride while on holiday in Venice, and they were officially married at the registry office in Manchester, but consider the real date as June 21, 2014, when they held a blessing ceremony in Spain.
James came along in 2016, with Isabelle’s arrival on April 24, 2019. Mrs Molloy’s funeral took place on May 16.
Mr Molloy said the couple had decided if they had a daughter to name her Isabelle Rey, but after realising what was about to happen, he changed it to Isabelle Rachel.
Mr Molloy said: ‘My own birthday was 9th April and Rachel made me a card.
‘In it she’d written: ‘To a fantastic Daddy. I can’t wait for our next adventure as a family of four’.
‘James will forever remind me of Rachel every time I look into his eyes. He is so much like her and when you see photographs of Rachel at his age they could almost be the same person.
‘Rachel was a very driven person and never took her foot off the pedal. She was the go-to person for all her friends when they had questions about career, cooking, relationships, anything.
‘And she was a wonderful mum. She lived for the kids.’
Inspired by the care his wife received at Wythenshawe – and the amazing staff at Saint Mary’s looking after Isabelle – Mr Molloy decided to launch a fundraising appeal, as a thank you to both hospitals for everything they have done for his family.
At first he only expected to raise a few hundred pounds, but within weeks the JustGiving page was at more than £16,000.
Mr Molloy said: ‘Something like this changes your reality and makes you realise how awful a terrible tragedy can be.
‘These sorts of things happen and you don’t hear about them and you just carry on oblivious.
‘In my mind, if this money helps save someone’s life or stops another family from going through something horrible, then it has done its job. I’m holding onto that thought, because I’m really struggling to see any other good that can come of this.
‘I want to help people now. My perspectives on life have completely changed.’
Mr Molloy’s focus now is on James and preparing to welcome Isabelle home when she is discharged from hospital, which will hopefully be in the next couple of weeks.
She is being fed through an nasogastric tube to her stomach and Mr Molloy has been taught how to feed her with the tube.
Once the staff at Saint Mary’s are happy that she is stable and healthy he’ll be able to take his daughter home to Sale.
Mr Molloy said: ‘Nothing anyone does will change what has happened to us, but hopefully the JustGiving page will help other families.
‘I feel hopeless and powerless. I can’t rewind the clock and change things – but I can make the best of a truly awful situation by doing something positive.
‘£16,700 is just an incredible amount and that’s mostly from people we know. I think donating gives people that sense of ‘I’m helping’.
‘And as I say, if it goes on to help another family or save a life then something good has come out of this terrible tragedy.’
Sarah Naismith, director of Manchester Foundation Trust Charity, which the Wythenshawe Hospital Charity and Saint Mary’s Hospital Charity, comes under – said: ‘No one at the charity, or indeed the two hospitals, can quite grasp what has happened to Rachel – it is such a sad and tragic story.
‘The fact Nick has been able to think of others through this awful experience is nothing short a miracle.
‘I can’t emphasise enough how truly moved we are that Nick wants to help other people and we’re incredibly grateful to each and every person who has made a donation, either at the funeral or via the JustGiving Page. Thank you.’
To donate, visit here.