Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy


Age at interview: 43

Brief outline: Dean's wife (Alison ' Interview 09) was checked regularly for high blood pressure through her 4th pregnancy. At 32 weeks she had pneumonia and multiple pulmonary embolisms. When Alison was induced she developed a very rare condition, Amniotic Fluid Embolism. She haemorrhaged and had to have a hysterectomy to save her life.

Background: Dean is a sheet metal worker. He is married with 5 children. White British.

Audio & video

Dean and his wife (Alison – Interview 09) had three children and were expecting their 4th child. His wife had developed gestational diabetes during her last pregnancy and her previous babies had been large. The early pregnancy went well but things started to go wrong when she developed a chest infection and multiple pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) about five weeks before her due date. She spent some time in hospital receiving a drug called Fragmin (dalteparin). Because she was on this blood-thinning drug, her doctors were very concerned that she did not have a caesarian-section, so they decided to induce the baby at 37 weeks.
As her labour progressed, Dean’s wife began to feel very unwell as she developed Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE), a very rare complication of pregnancy in which amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair, or other debris enters the mother's blood stream via the placental bed of the womb and triggers an allergic reaction. Her baby’s heart rate dropped and the doctors had to perform an emergency caesarian-section to deliver her. The baby was unwell and sent to the neo-natal ward where she stayed for nine days suffering respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice and sepsis. While the caesarean was initially straight forward, within 30 minutes of the operation Dean’s wife had developed bleeding from virtually every part of her body, especially from the operation site, as a result of the AFE. The doctors were ultimately forced to do a hysterectomy to try and stop the bleeding. Alison was extremely unwell and Dean was told to pray for a miracle. 
His wife was kept asleep for four to five days and was ultimately in intensive care (ICU) for eight days and two days in the high dependency unit (HDU). The interview took place almost two years on from leaving hospital. His wife and their daughter are now doing fine, but Dean still occasionally has flashbacks. 


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