Mum gives birth in coma after rare ‘brain on fire’ disease left her with an American accent

'We have lost a massive part of what was supposed to be the best time in our lives.'

Mum gives birth in coma after rare ‘brain on fire’ disease left her with an American accent
Becky Prout
The couple are now fundraising (Picture: PA Real Life)

A first-time mum was robbed of the memory of hearing her baby’s first cries, or giving her that first cuddle, after she gave birth in a coma.

Becky Prout was just 27 weeks pregnant when she suddenly began speaking in an American accent.

Her condition quickly deteriorated and, after having seizures, she was placed in a coma before doctors delivered her baby via c-section.

Now, Becky’s partner, Chad Maling, is concerned his partner may never return to her old self.

‘We have lost a massive part of what was supposed to be the best time in our lives,’ he said.

Becky, a hotel receptionist from Doncaster, was seemingly healthy and had recently returned from a holiday with Chad, 30, to Gran Canaria when everything changed.

Becky Prout
Chad said the ordeal has left him ‘absolutely broken’ and he is now worried Becky might not return to her old self (Picture: PA Real Life)

She complained of numbness in her arm, and then one evening, the pair were finishing a meal at a restaurant when she started speaking like an American – even though she’s never visited the United States before.

‘All of a sudden, when she finished the meal – boom, she exploded into this American person,’ said Chad.

‘She just turned American – and she isn’t, she’s from Doncaster, but her accent and personality, everything changed.

‘It was like she had taken on a whole different personality.’

Then, Chad said Becky sat on the floor of the car park outside the restaurant, commenting on how nice the rocks were.

Knowing something was seriously wrong, Becky was rushed to hospital where doctors advised she should stay overnight – but Becky, who was still acting strangely, refused and went home.

‘She was looking at Google Maps on her phone while stuck in hospital, trying to work out where she was,’ said Chad.

She was eventually convinced to return to hospital, after suffering a ‘major seizure’ outside the A&E department.

Three days later, she suffered yet another seizure.

‘Effectively, she died for a little bit while in there,’ said Chad. ‘They had to come in and do CPR and bring her back around.’

Becky Prout
Becky had recently returned from a holiday in Gran Canaria when she started feeling numbness in her arm (Picture: PA Real Life)

Becky was placed in a coma for her ‘own safety’, and was eventually diagnosed with anti-NMDAR encephalitis – a condition sometimes referred to as ‘fire on the brain’.

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.

‘We were told by the neurologist that it’s very, very rare to have it while you’re pregnant,’ said Chad.

A few weeks later on August 18, doctors decided to carry out a c-section as there were complications with Becky’s baby.

‘She was still in a coma unfortunately at this point, which is really, really sad,’ said Chad. Baby Maya was born weighing just 4lbs 10oz – but is now doing well.

Becky Prout
Doctors decided to carry out a C-section while Becky was in a coma (Picture: PA Real Life)

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.

Doctors removed the lump and her condition began to improve while she remained on life support.

However, it was not until a month after giving birth that doctors were finally able to wake her up.

‘She’s slightly improving, but nowhere near as fast as what the doctors would like,’ said Chad.

‘I think yesterday (November 3) was probably the first day in a long time, I’ve actually had a conversation with her.

How is anti-NMDAR autoimmune receptor encephalitis treated?

According to the NHS: ‘The aim of treatment is to dampen down the immune system to stop abnormal signalling so improving the symptoms and reducing lasting damage.

‘Steroid treatment can reduce some symptoms and stop new symptoms from developing. Once the diagnosis is made, they are usually given into a vein once a day for the next three to five days. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is often prescribed alongside steroid treatment, also given into a vein. Plasma exchange may also be suggested when the condition is very severe.

‘Rituximab is another medicine prescribed to reduce inflammation. Rituximab removes some of the white blood cells in the body called B cells. Removing these cells reduces the production of antibodies that may play a role in your child’s illness.’

‘She’s still very, very confused.

‘One minute, she’s cuddling up to her [Maya] 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.”’

While Becky’s condition is improving, Chad said that her recovery could take up to five years.

Becky Prout
It could take up to five years for Becky to fully recover (Picture: PA Real Life)

‘It’s crazy how one minute life can be so good and just turn so quickly.

‘And now there’s the worry of who Becky’s going to be when she’s better,’ said Chad.

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.

‘I know times are not easy for anyone at all and still for people to donate is unreal, absolutely unreal,’ said Chad.

Chad also praised the Ronald McDonald House Charities for providing accommodation near the hospital so he could continue visiting Becky on a daily basis, as well as Snap, a charity for families with children and young people who have any additional need or disability.

To support Chad and Becky visit their GoFund Me page.

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