Dr. Dalia Abd Almajed's pregnancy story

Dalia receiving an ultrasound from the Sunnybrook care team

The future was looking very bright for Dr. Dalia Abd Almajed. She had married a caring man and after 17 years of practicing medicine in Iraq, in September 2013, she was on the verge of completing a PhD in obstetrics and gynecology. Her husband, Salam, had already relocated to Canada for a job, with the expectation that Dalia would join him after her studies.

Then Dalia started to experience flu-like symptoms.

“I figured it was just a bad virus. I felt unwell for a few days, then felt much better and continued to focus on my studies,” says Dalia.

One week later, Dalia started to experience severe pain in her trunk and arms. Within hours, she couldn’t move both legs. Rushed to the hospital, she stopped breathing and was unconscious for three days.

“I woke up and the doctors told me, you have a transverse myelitis, a disease affecting your spinal cord. My whole body was paralyzed and I was placed on a mechanical ventilator.”

After four months in the hospital in Iraq, Dalia was discharged and her husband sponsored her to come to Canada. In September 2014, she arrived at her new home in a wheelchair. Not soon after, a shock: Dalia realized she was pregnant.

“I was surprised and afraid,” says Dalia. “As a doctor, I knew the risk to the baby, and to me.”

"I cannot imagine how I would have gotten through the pregnancy without Dr. Berndl and the Sunnybrook team."

Her family physician referred her to Dr. Anne Berndl at Sunnybrook, a high-risk obstetrician with a strong interest in providing care to women with mobility disorders.

“Every fear I had was addressed. ‘How was I going to get through the pregnancy, how would I deliver a baby?’ Dr. Berndl set my mind at ease, I knew I was in safe hands,” says Dalia.

Under guidance from Dr. Berndl, Sunnybrook’s obstetrics team worked together so that all of the team members knew the details of Dalia’s medical condition. A care plan was formed, including the goal of having a vaginal delivery. This commitment to accessibility has continued, with the recent opening of the Accessible Care Pregnancy Clinic at Sunnybrook, providing comprehensive obstetrical care to women with both invisible and visible disabilities.

On August 15, 2015, baby girl Eram arrived by a vaginal birth. She’s now an energetic toddler, and also a big sister. Dalia delivered baby Abbas on May 8, 2017.

“I cannot imagine how I would have gotten through the pregnancy without Dr. Berndl and the Sunnybrook team,” says Dalia. Dalia, as she breastfeeds Abbas. “I truly hope other women with mobility conditions, who may want a baby, will receive care at this clinic.”