Woman forced to abort baby in a bid to save her own life has sadly died aged just 22
Last year, Charlotte Smith - a 21-year-old woman pregnant with her first child - had to make a devastating decision. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and was told that carrying her child to term could mean that she would lose her life.
Faced with the prospect of a premature death, Smith made the difficult choice to terminate her pregnancy at 11 weeks. Then, on the day she had the abortion, she began chemotherapy to treat her cancer.
She spent the following months sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness of the disease, and touched the hearts of thousands of people as she showed what a positive and resilient woman she was.
Sadly, however, her battle did not last long, and she passed away yesterday at the age of 22.
In August last year, Smith spoke out about how she found out that she had leukemia. At first, she says, she put her symptoms down to her pregnancy.
"After a few weeks [of being pregnant], I began to feel ill," the young woman said. "It had been alright, then I started getting excruciating back pain and I was so tired. I could not eat I was throwing up that much. But I just put it down to the pregnancy."
However, when it came time for her to have a blood test, she found out that her problems were more than just morning sickness.
"I went to have blood taken at the beginning of December," she recalled. "This is standard for pregnant women around nine to twelve weeks. But then I was called back in, as an abnormality had been found and I had to stay in overnight."
The next morning, she was told she had leukemia.
"The only thing I was bothered about was the baby," she said. "But it was either my life or the child's, and I didn't want to die. There was 84 percent cancer cells in my blood."
Smith was warned that if she put the treatment off there would be a very high chance she would die, so she agreed to the termination.
"I had a scan the next day," she went on. "I wouldn't go through with the termination if I couldn't have a scan first. I wanted to see the baby." The doctors honored her wishes, and Smith was allowed to say goodbye to her child.
Tragically, however, the young woman showed resistance to treatment almost straight away, and ended up in intensive care after her second round of chemotherapy. Later on, she underwent a successful bone marrow transplant from her brother, but that, too, failed to help her.
Yesterday, her close friend, Jordanna, posted this update on Facebook:
"Well, I never thought id ever in a million years be having to write this. A lot of you may have seen Charlotte's post about her going into hospital this morning. She is my best friend and has been for many years, she has sadly passed away, she had an infection and couldn't fight it.
"I've been to see her little face, she is at peace now, I'm with her mum and her husband we are all trying to stay strong. She was a little fighter but couldn't fight much more."
Though this is obviously a tragedy for all those involved, Smith's death will hopefully not be in vain. During her treatment, she campaigned for pregnant women to receive routine blood tests early on in their first term, and her petition has now been seen by thousands.
Our thoughts go out to her friends and family at this difficult time.