New mum has fatal heart attack after giving birth as family share heartbreaking final image

A mum tragically died from a sudden heart attack having just given birth to a child she will never meet.

The family of Amber Pendlebury has shared a heartbreaking final image of the mum who gave birth to baby Maxwell Lee while she was under general anaesthetic.

Amber was put on a life-support machine immediately after waking up because she had suffered two rapid cardiac arrests, Yorkshire Live reports.

A fatal heart attack happened shortly after giving birth to her son and her family has taken the brave decision to share this extraordinarily moving and heartbreaking image of the mum in her last moments of life.

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Her mum Vida Pendlebury-Atherton, 71, said she had been living through a “nightmare” following the tragic news of her daughter’s death in early February.

Vida said days earlier Amber had been very positive about her pregnancy and had “prepared everything” for the arrival of her third child.

But just after tiny Maxwell Lee was born, Amber cried out “I can’t breathe” and collapsed, before medics frantically whisked her away for emergency treatment.

Previously healthy Amber finally passed away on February 1, with her grief-stricken mother still shocked at the nature and speed of her shocking death.

Vida Pendlebury-Atherton with baby Maxwell Lee

Vida said: “I just feel like it’s a nightmare and I’m going to wake up at some point. It’s so, so sad.”

“How can a healthy person with a healthy pregnancy go to have a baby and not come out of it?”

Vida said it had been a wonderful surprise when she first found out that Amber, from Wakefield, West Yorks., was pregnant with her partner Ben Reeder, 36, in 2021.

She said that her daughter – who already had two children, aged 13 and 18, from a previous relationship – was well prepared for the arrival of her third baby.

Vida said: “At her age, we were really surprised, but then we were delighted.

“We found out it was going to be a little boy, and they were so looking forward to it.

“She prepared everything for him: a cradle downstairs and a cradle upstairs.”

Amber was admitted to Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, West Yorks., for the birth on January 25.

Amber with partner Ben Reeder

Vida said: “She was supposed to go in for a c-section in the morning, and when she got there, she decided she wanted to do a natural birth.

“So they induced her, but she’d been on the drip for the inducement for at least ten hours, and she was only 4cm dilated, which is not good.

“They later said they’d have to do a caesarian section, but said they’d have to put her to sleep while they did it.”

Vida said doctors were bringing the mum round when she had a series of sudden heart attacks and never caught a glimpse of her baby before she collapsed.

She said: “Doctors delivered the little baby, who was 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

“But she never saw him, as when she woke up, she said, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!
“My chest is on fire, my chest is on fire!”

“That’s all her partner heard her say, and then she was whisked away.”

An inquest has been launched following Amber’s death

Vida said she got the news that her daughter was on a life support machine on January 26.

She said: “The first we knew that Amber was poorly was when we got a phone call to go up to the hospital as she was very unwell and wasn’t expected to last the night.

“That was about seven o’clock in the evening. It was unbelievable to get that news. It was like, ‘What’s happened?’”

Vida was the last person to leave her daughter’s bedside before medics switched off her life support machine a few days later.

She said: “There was only one day where we weren’t able to go because of Covid, but we saw her every day apart from that, and I was the last to leave her.

“I couldn’t stay and watch the machine be switched off. I just couldn’t do it, and it was so hard to leave her”.

Vida says she and her husband will now do what they can to support baby Maxwell Lee and his dad.

She said: “She loved him, and it’s only fitting that he should bring his little boy up.

“But obviously we’ll be there as grandparents to give help and advice.

“Max was my 19th grandchild, and we’ve had all those other births, and we just didn’t expect in this day and age that women die in childbirth.

“It just doesn’t seem right.”

An inquest has been launched following Amber’s death, with a post-mortem investigation due to reveal the reason why the healthy mum passed away.

It’s understood Pinderfields Hospital, where Amber was treated, is also conducting its own investigation.

The hospital trust has been approached for comment.

Now Vida is raising money, with the hope of reaching £3000, so that Amber can be buried in a cemetery close to where she lives.

Those who wish to donate can do here

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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