A PREGNANT woman was robbed of her personality due to a rare condition – then had to give birth while in a coma.
Becky Prout, 31, from Doncaster, was diagnosed with a disease described as being like your 'brain is on fire', an autoimmune condition which causes psychosis, violent episodes and delusions.
It left her with an American accent and rendered her unconscious for the first month of her baby daughter's life – whom she barely recognised.
Although the new mum is on the mend, boyfriend, Chad Maling, 30, worries about "who Becky’s going to be" when she’s better.
The 30-year-old plumber said the ordeal was "so scary to see".
Becky, a hotel receptionist, had just finished dinner at a restaurant on July 22, 2023, with her partner when she suddenly started behaving like a completely different person.
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“All of a sudden, when she finished the meal – boom, she exploded into this American person,” said Chad.
“It was like she had taken on a whole different personality.”
When Chad witnessed Becky sitting on the floor in the car park outside the restaurant, commenting on how nice the rocks were, he knew something was seriously wrong.
She was rushed to Milton Keynes University Hospital on July 23, 2023 where doctors advised she should stay overnight – but Becky, who was still acting strangely, refused and went home.
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But the mum-to-be had a “major seizure” outside the A&E department, which forced her back into the hospital.
The same happened three days later, on July 26, and Chad thought he was going to lose both the love of his life and his unborn child.
“Effectively, she died for a little bit while in there,” he said.
“They had to come in and do CPR and bring her back around.”
On Friday, July 28, Becky was placed in a coma for her “own safety” before being transferred to a hospital in Oxfordshire – which Chad does not want to identify.
It took doctors just three days to diagnose Becky with anti-NMDAR encephalitis.
The condition disrupts normal brain signalling, which can cause altered mental state, behavioural changes, agitation, abnormal movements, hallucinations, sleep disturbance and seizures, as well as speech changes, according to the NHS.
While anti-NMDAR encephalitis is relatively common, it is extremely rare in pregnant women, according to research published by the American Academy of Neurology.
A few weeks later, on August 18, doctors decided to carry out a caesarean as there were complications with Becky’s baby, Maya.
“She was still in a coma, unfortunately, at this point, which is sad,” said Chad.
“The baby’s bladder was blocked, so they had to drain a litre of fluid off a baby that weighed 4.10 lbs”.
An MRI scan later revealed Becky had a cyst on one of her ovaries, which doctors believe may have triggered her immune system, causing it to attack her brain.
It was not until a month after giving birth that doctors were finally able to wake her up.
Chad said her recovery could take up to five years.
“I think yesterday (November 3) was probably the first day in a long time I’ve had a conversation with her.
“She’s still very, very confused.
"One minute, she’s cuddling up to her (the baby), and I’m saying, ‘look at you being the best mum in the world’.
“And three, four minutes later, she says, ‘That’s not my baby’.”
Chad, who has been staying in accommodation near the hospital since, said the ordeal has left him “absolutely broken”.
Before Becky fell ill, the new dad was looking to set up his own plumbing business, but he has put his plans on ice while taking care of his daughter and supporting Becky.
“I’ve had to give up everything,” he said.
“It’s crazy how one minute life can be so good and turn so quickly.
A fundraiser was launched by Becky’s close friend Heaven Mayer on GoFundMe to help support Chad during this difficult time, which has already received over £4,500 in donations.
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"Without (those who have donated) it would be so much harder,” he said.
“I know times are not easy for anyone, and still for people to donate is unreal."
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