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Childbirth survivors host blood drive to bring awareness to serious pregnancy condition

Raising awareness of a deadly childbirth condition
Posted: 7:08 AM, Jul 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-19 14:35:06Z

You'd think after delivery the hardest part of childbirth is over. But for a growing number of women, the biggest challenge comes after their little one has arrived, and sometimes, it can be deadly.

Three women have survived this condition, and now, they're now coming together to keep other women from having to experience it.

For Tanya Trostel, donating blood is more than something to do. This is a celebration of her daughter's first birthday and of her being alive to see it.

Exactly one year ago, Trostel had given birth to her daughter, Eva, when doctors told her her placenta wasn't coming out.

"I was in excruciating pain, and I was shaking," Trostel said. "I felt like I was getting ready to pass out."

They took her to the operating room for what was supposed to be a 30-minute surgery to remove it. But the procedure lasted much longer. 

"I woke up with breathing tubes down," Trostel said. "I was intubated in the ICU, and I found out later that I had hemorrhaged severely."

Doctors had to perform a hysterectomy and use 11 units of blood to save Trostel's life.

"They said I had bled pretty much out," Trostel said. "All my blood capacity out."

So, how did her normal pregnancy and delivery become a near death experience? Doctors told Trostel she had placenta accreta, which happens when the placenta grows abnormally into the wall of the uterus and isn't able to separate after childbirth.

Trostel went to Facebook looking for support, and found it through Kate McMeekin, a nurse who was working in her hospital the night she almost died.

"I just kind of knew it was Accreta I guess," McMeekin said. "And I sat down, and I prayed for this mom that I didn't know. And then later when she told her story, I was so excited because she was alive and we were going to be friends."

McMeekin was also a placenta accreta survivor. They connected with Christine Hein, another survivor, and formed a support group for women in their area. Then, the three women decided to have a blood drive.

"Some of us wouldn't be here today without that," Hein says. "So you know, giving back is very important for a lot of us who have received blood."

The ladies say this is all about awareness of a growing issue. Placenta accreta now strikes 1 in roughly 500 pregnancies. Dr. Saketh Guntupalli with UCHealth says one of the biggest risk factors is a previous C-section.

"The best thing that we say to women and to our colleagues in obstetrics is, you know, only do a C-section if it's really medically indicated," Dr. Guntupalli says.

Also, they say, giving blood and giving back.

"If we can just change the course for some other mom, that would be huge for us," McMeekin says.

The women say they hope to provide awareness of and support through whatever life might bring.