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Agonising wait: Catherine Urhegyi, 32, who is 26 weeks pregnant, wont know if the abortion drug has affected her baby until she is bornIt was the heart-stopping moment that every mother- to-be dreads. A routine scan to determine Catherine Urhegyi’s due date revealed her longed-for second child was dead in her womb. Numb and bewildered, she was told she could miscarry naturally or have an abortion.She and husband Andrew were distraught. ‘I’d gone along expecting to see a baby on the scan,’ she recalls. ‘I hadn’t been expecting bad news. So I was stunned to be told there was no heartbeat. I just burst into tears.’Reluctantly, the couple agreed to an induced abortion and Catherine took medication to start the process. Two days later, after a bout of heavy bleeding, Catherine returned to Salford Royal Hospital to complete the abortion. There – much to her astonishment and delight – a further scan, carried out before a second drug was administered, detected a heartbeat. The girl they had hoped would complete their family had not died as the hospital had said.And against all the odds, she had survived the ill-advised abortion.Though thrilled, the couple now face an agonising wait until their daughter is born, fearing she will have long-term health problems as a result of the medication that was intended to induce the abortion.To make matters worse, doctors have told them that the heavy bleeding Catherine suffered could have been a miscarriage of a possible twin – killed by the procedure.As Catherine and Andrew struggle to understand how it could have happened, and what it could mean for them, the NHS hospital has launched an urgent investigation.Doctors have warned them they cannot be sure their little girl will not suffer birth defects because the abortion pill was administered during the critical 12-week development period for the foetus. The couple have decided to speak of their experience in the hope that hospitals will ensure they perform a second scan with a different sonographer if it is suspected a baby has died in the womb.‘To say this has ruined my pregnancy would be an understatement,’ says laboratory manager Catherine, 32, who is now 26 weeks pregnant and already has a son Thomas, two. ‘Our little girl is a much-wanted baby and we are extremely worried she won’t now be born healthy. We are incredibly angry and upset. We can’t understand how doctors could have made such a big error.
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‘In hindsight we believe a scan should have been carried out before I took the pill to double-check the diagnosis that the baby had died.’Yesterday, holding hands with her plasterer husband Andrew, also 32, at their home in Walkden, Manchester, Catherine told how they had desperately wanted a second child.‘We wanted a little brother or sister for Thomas and as I’d had a completely normal pregnancy with him, we had no reason to believe this one would be any different,’ she says.As her periods had been irregular and Catherine was unsure how many weeks pregnant she was, her midwife suggested she had a routine ‘dating’ ultrasound scan and referred her to Salford Royal. However, within minutes of doing the scan the sonographer told Catherine there was a problem.
During a routine scan, medics told Catherine her child had died in the womb and that she should start an induced abortion, but the baby survived the process. Pictured: A scan of her unborn daughter‘She couldn’t detect any heartbeat and in fact said she believed the pregnancy had already started to disintegrate,’ recalls Catherine. ‘I was told I had three options. I could let a miscarriage occur naturally, which could take weeks, I could have a dilatation and curettage – an operation under a general anaesthetic to empty my uterus – or I could take a pill to induce labour.‘I chose the pill because it meant that I could stay at home and wouldn’t have to leave Thomas.’Doctors explained she would take the first pill, containing the drug mifepristone, by mouth. It works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without this, the lining of the uterus breaks down. Then two days later she would return to the hospital for the final stage, which would involve a second drug, misoprostol, to bring on contractions and expel what remained of the pregnancy. The evening after taking the mifepristone, she began to experience heavy bleeding, but thought it was part of the process.  We have found ourselves in a nightmare situation which could have been avoided. We only hope getting this out into the open will ensure no one suffers as we have To check the mifepristone had worked, Catherine underwent another scan, before taking the misoprostol. She recalls: ‘As she did the scan the woman looked concerned. She left and returned with a colleague. After pointing out something on the screen, the colleague nodded and left.‘The woman then turned to me and said she’d found a heartbeat and estimated I was around seven weeks pregnant. I was amazed and overjoyed. But seconds later I was overcome with shock because I began to worry about how the drug might have harmed my baby.’Shaking, Catherine rang Andrew who hurried to the hospital. ‘By the time he arrived I was in a terrible state,’ she says. ‘A consultant came in and said it was our decision, but due to the possible harm our baby may have suffered from the pill, it was still an option to continue with the abortion. However, there was no way, having seen my baby’s heart beating on a scan, I could carry on.’Doctors explained that, as the drug acts by shearing off the embryo from the uterus, they could not guarantee a miscarriage wouldn’t happen in the coming days or weeks.‘Because I had such a large bleed, I’ve since found out it might be I was pregnant with twins and did in fact miscarry one,’ Catherine reveals. ‘That was very upsetting. Nobody knows for sure but it is heartbreaking to think I might have lost a baby over this. And I have been terrified since that I will lose my baby I am carrying now.’
A spokesman for Salford Royal (pictured) apologised for the error and launched a probe into the incidentSince then, Catherine has imagined every little twinge is a miscarriage. ‘It is a miracle I am still pregnant, but I just haven’t been able to relax,’ she says.‘I just wish I had asked for another scan to check, especially as I’d had no other sign anything was amiss with the pregnancy, but then I trusted the doctors. They’ve given me leaflets which explain the drug can be linked to birth defects. Some of these might not be immediately noticeable and will only show as our daughter grows. But there’s been hardly any research. I’ve been reassured she is growing as expected and I feel happier now I can feel her kicking. But doctors can’t check for everything.‘I am trying to put what happened to the back of my mind and be positive but then I have moments of despair at night when I fear the worst. It is very hard.‘We have found ourselves in a nightmare situation which could have been avoided. We only hope getting this out into the open will ensure no one suffers as we have.’Jack Sharp, executive director at Salford Royal, said: ‘We again apologise unreservedly to Mrs Urhegyi for the error and the distress this has undoubtedly caused.‘We immediately launched an investigation to understand how the incident happened and how we could prevent it occurring again. This has now concluded and a member of our senior nursing team has arranged to meet with Mrs Urhegyi in person to share those findings.’ 

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The average prices sellers are asking for UK houses are just £30 below their all-time highs and could breach that peak soon as a lack of choice for buyers adds to the upward pressure on values, according to Rightmove.And as people aged 55 and over prepare to get their hands on their pension pots from next month as a result of new freedoms introduced by the Government, the property website said that a rise in retirees looking to snap up buy-to-let properties could drive house prices higher.The average new seller asking price across England and Wales was £281,752 in March, which is 1 per cent higher than the previous month and £30 below an all-time high recorded in June last year, Rightmove said.
Ladder higher: Rightmove said the asking price for a typical first-time buyer home has already increased by 7.6 per cent over the last year to reach £169,414 on averageIt said that buy-to-let investors cashing in their pension pots to raise larger deposits may drive prices up further at the ‘starter home’ end of the market, meaning first-time buyers could face tougher competition for homes.Rightmove said the asking price for a typical first-time buyer home has already increased by 7.6 per cent over the last year to reach £169,414 on average.
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Estate agents have already reported an uplift in interest from investors ahead of the new rules coming into force on April 6 which will give people the freedom to take their pension pots how they like.
Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: ‘Agents report a high level of interest from new landlords, or “granlords”, who are typically first time, retirement age, buy-to-let investors.Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: ‘Agents report a high level of interest from new landlords, or “granlords”, who are typically first time, retirement age, buy-to-let investors.‘With the highest returns for the lowest investment being at the lower end of the market, the first-time buyer property sector will be the greatest recipient of any increase in demand from investors with substantial pension pots.‘Unfortunately flats and terraced houses with two bedrooms or fewer are coming to the market in smaller numbers than the middle and upper tier sectors, so are the least prepared for an upsurge in demand.’Looking across the regions, the East of England saw the strongest year-on-year upswing in sellers asking prices, with average prices 8.8 per cent higher than a year earlier, taking them to £297,863.This was followed by the South East, which saw an 8.2 per cent increase in asking prices over the last year, pushing them up to £369,600.London saw a 5.5 per cent annual increase in asking prices, taking the typical price tag on a property in the capital to £580,308.Last week, a report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors claimed that London house prices could rise by 30 per cent over the next five years as it saw property values across the UK continue to rise in February amid a lack of new properties on the market.Although Britains capital was the only region to not record a rise in house prices last month, according the Rics survey, with prices falling in London for the sixth month in a row in February.In today’s Rightmove report, the North East was the only region to record a year-on-year fall in asking prices this month , with a 1.1 per cent decline taking them to £143,238.In Wales, the average asking price was £169,477, marking a 0.2 per cent year-on-year increase.Estate agents said that older property investors would be a welcome addition to the market.David Blythman, managing director of Scottfraser in Oxfordshire, said he viewed first time, retirement age, buy-to-let investors as having a positive impact on the quality of the private rental sector ‘as they have no intention of squandering their hard earned funds on anything other than the best properties’.
More wanted: The UK’s chronic shortage of homes is one of the reasons behind the surge in house pricesKen Hume, of James Alexander in Norbury, south west London, said: ‘Weve had enquiries from a number of older people considering buy-to-let which is likely to have an effect this year, with interest expressed particularly in smaller flats where yields are higher.‘As this end of the market is not as busy in our local area, these buyers are a welcome addition, especially as they are often 100 per cent cash.
‘‘The bank of mum and dad continues to be an important resource for many of our younger buyers, some not so young as well who just do not have the resources to fund a deposit without this assistance,’ he added.The UK’s chronic shortage of homes is one of the reasons behind the surge in house prices.The recent Rics survey suggested that the choice of homes for buyers fell further last month as a net balance of 8 per cent of surveyors said there were fewer new properties on the market in February.Rics said political uncertainty ahead of May’s general election may be leading more potential vendors to postpone the sale of their homes, further shrinking the supply of properties on the market.On average, surveyors expect to see prices across the UK rise by 2.4 per cent over the coming year and by 4.5 per cent a year typically over the course of the next five years.Other recent data by mortgage lender Halifax showed that while house prices fell slightly in February, rising wages, increasing spending power and a stamp duty cut were boosting demand, with quarterly figures showing prices were picking up.The average home in the UK is currently valued at £192,372 – almost £12,000 more expensive than a year ago, Halifax said.And the outlook points to further price hikes, with the Rics survey showing an overall balance of 10 per cent of surveyors expecting to see rises rather than falls in February – up from a balance of 3 per cent in January.