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Wisconsin Woman With Placenta Growing Outside Uterus Risks Her Life To Have Her Baby

This mother refused to give up on her child and even though the doctors told her that she could have died during labor she continued with the pregnancy.

Heather Stainback had always wanted a big family. She had always dreamed of having a lot of children. Stainback had already had four children and she wanted to have another child. She found out she was pregnant very early on and when she was about 5 1/2 weeks pregnant she said that she started bleeding a lot. At first, she just assumed she was experiencing a miscarriage. She went to get tests to see if she was pregnant and all of the tests came back fine. The tests said that she had a low lying placenta and she just needed to be careful.

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Stainback said there wasn't really anything with the pregnancy that would make her believe something was wrong until she was 20 weeks along. She went in for her ultrasound and the tech was very concerned. She said that the tech rushed out of the room to get the doctor. Stainback has had four children previously and so she knew that something was wrong. A doctor came in and checked the ultrasound. The doctor said, "if you don’t abort this child, either you or the baby could die, or you will die upon delivery."

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She was sent to Froedert & the Medical College of Wisconsin where she was diagnosed with a dangerous condition called Placenta Percreta. "Where the placenta grows through the uterus into another organ in the body," said Meredith Cruz, a Maternal Fetal Medicine Physician at Froedert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. "In general, women that have prior scars on the uterus or prior c-sections are at increased risks for having that placenta grow into that abnormal or a rougher surface," she said. "Then at the time of delivery those vessels become broken or sheered and can cause a very large blood loss in a short period of time," said Cruz. Cruz says for women with prior c-sections, it's important to get care early on in pregnancy. "Get  an early ultrasound just to know what’s going on with the placenta," said Cruz, "And make sure that they’re seeing a high-risk specialist in addition to their regular obstetrician to make sure that they have a normal ultrasound with the placenta."

Stainback's case was life-threatening. She knew there was a possibility that she could die. She said that there was not a chance that she was going to terminate the pregnancy. She said that God had never given up on her so she asked herself, "how could I give up on this baby?" Stainback admitted that she had a lot of tough conversations with her husband. She had to tell him that if she died and the baby lived that he could not be mad at the baby.

On June 11, she went in for the surgery to deliver the baby, knowing she might not come home. "I’m not scared to die, I know I’ll go to heaven. I was just scared because I wanted to live, scared because I just wanted to see how this, all of this and to meet my baby," she said. Cruz said there were over 30 people in Stainback's room."Anesthesiologists, hematologist, trauma surgeons, neurologists, maternal fetal medicine," she said. Stainback lost 25 liters of blood.

Garrett Fitzgerald, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist at Froedert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. said Stainback had one procedure to remove the uterus and placenta, a second unplanned procedure for a blood clot, and a third procedure to close of all of her remaining blood vessels. Stainback said their baby, Khloe Grace, also went without oxygen for about 45 seconds during the delivery. "She does have a bruise on her brain from the hemorrhaging and loss of oxygen when she was born and so we will have to monitor that for a while," said Stainback. Both Stainback and Khloe are finally at home and Stainback says she is perfect.

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