MY STORY | I survived two brain aneurysms when I was eight months pregnant

Tamara Goliath underwent two major brain surgeries while she was eight months pregnant with her son, Israel. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Tamara Goliath underwent two major brain surgeries while she was eight months pregnant with her son, Israel. (PHOTO: Supplied)

Her pregnancy was going smoothly and she was excited to welcome her baby boy into the world.

But Tamara Goliath (30) from Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, suffered a major setback eight months into her pregnancy when she had two sudden brain aneurysms.

The mom-of-two had to undergo complicated brain surgery and doctors weren’t sure that she’d make a full recovery.

Despite the odds, both Tamara and her baby boy, Israel, are both healthy and thriving.

This is her story.

“It was an ordinary morning on 15 October 2020. My husband, Lindsay (32), and I were getting ready to go and bless a friend’s home that they had just moved into. I got into a bath and suddenly started feeling uneasy (something didn't feel right) and experienced a sharp pain in my head. It felt like warm water was running over my head.

I had asked Lindsay to help me out of the bath and grab me a towel. I couldn’t wait any longer for him, so I decided to walk over to our bedroom which is across from the bathroom.

I laid my head down on the bed and started vomiting uncontrollably. I also started seizing and suddenly went completely paralysed from my neck down. I could only somewhat move my eyes and my speech also deteriorated to a point where I lost all verbal expression – I sounded like a drunk person slurping my tongue.

I remember feeling scared.

Tamara and Lindsay
Tamara with her husband, Lindsay. (PHOTO: Supplied)

My terrified husband panicked and frantically asked me what was happening and if I could feel the baby in my tummy – I was eight months pregnant at the time. He immediately started praying and told me, ‘you will live and not die’.

Lindsay called a family friend to ask him to call the ambulance. He then called my gynaecologist to inform him about what had happened.

The doctor said Lindsay should bring me in immediately and that they would prep the theatre to deliver the baby.

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Lindsay called my sister-in-law, Chelsea, to help get me to Melomed Mitchells Plain Hospital, as the ambulance was taking too long to arrive. We live in an apartment on the third floor and getting me down the stairs was difficult. My sister-in-law and husband put me in my office chair and carried me down the stairs.

The ambulance arrived at that time and transported me to the hospital.

Upon arrival, the doctor asked Lindsay a few questions about what had taken place and concluded that it had nothing to do with the baby, but it was a matter of urgency – he believed my brain was experiencing a tremendous trauma.

When he called a neurologist to do an examination this did, indeed, turn out to be the case. I was experiencing not only one but two brain aneurysms and was then transferred to Tokai Melomed Hospital for scans.

Emergency surgery was done to release the pressure from my brain and remove the blood that went onto the brain tissue causing the seizure, loss of speech, and lameness from my neck down. I was then transported to UCT Medical Hospital for a second surgery to clamp and secure the blood vessel with a metal plate.

Tamara spent four weeks in hospital. Doctors still don't know what caused her aneurysms. (PHOTO: Supplied)

All of this happened hours apart while I was highly pregnant.

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The doctors could not tell what the outcome would be after having undergone two major brain operations and whether I would be the same again or not. But here I am, telling you my story, a survivor with nothing more than my testimony by the grace of God.

Doctors weren't expecting me to wake up a few days after the second operation because of the major trauma my brain went through, but I woke up hours after the operation was done. I was speaking, I could move my limbs and that was a good indication to them that I would be able to walk again.

Tamara gave birth to baby Israel one week after being discharged from the hospital. (PHOTO: Supplied)

I was in the hospital for almost four weeks recovering from the operations and receiving physiotherapy to help me walk again.

Doctors still don’t know what caused the aneurysms.

I was home for just over a week when I went into labour and baby Israel was born. He is now 11 months old and is adored by his older sister, Eliza (6).

I am so grateful to be alive and well with a healthy baby boy. 

Baby Israel with his older sister, Eliza. (PHOTO: Supplied)

Even the doctors and nurses agree that my recovery was a miracle. Remain positive and believe that whatever you might be facing can turn around for your good. I am living proof of that.

Miracles still happen!”

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