An investigation is underway into a 14-year-old African girl's miscarriage in an Irish hospital last yearStock

A heavily pregnant Monaghan woman has died on her 39th birthday – but doctors in Drogheda’s Lady of Lourdes hospital have saved her baby girl.

Marcella Breen Gilliland, from Ballybay, died suddenly of a heart attack on Tuesday at the Boyneside hospital as she awaited an ante-natal check up.

Doctors were unable to save Marcella’s life but did manage to deliver her baby as her pregnancy was almost at full term.

Marcella’s husband Andrew and her two sons Adam and Mark have been comforted by family and friends as they come to terms with their loss and their new arrival.

A statement released through the Irish Health Service, the HSE, read: “The HSE wishes to express its deepest sympathies to the family and is supporting them in every way possible. In respecting their wishes, the HSE has agreed to make no further comment.”

Locals in Marcella’s home town of Ballybay spoke of their shock at her sudden death, believed to have caused by complications with her pregnancy.

“We don’t really know what to say because it was so sudden and just out of the blue,” one neighbour told the Irish Independent.

“It’s hard to get your head around this because she was so young and healthy.  It’s just terrible that there are three young children left behind now.

“Marcella doted on her two sons who were her world.”

A native of Tipperary, Marcella had lived in Monaghan for some time and worked as a nurse in the area.

On her Facebook page she had listed one of her favourite quotes as: ‘Enjoy life, it’s only a blink.'