My Sister, The Medical Miracle

Last friday (November 16, 2012) my sister went to the hospital to give birth to two beautiful and very healthy twins. While she was in the hospital, she suffered from an Amniotic Fluid Embolism. Based on who you read, it is anywhere from 60% to 80% fatal. One journal I read has an entire chapter about what to do after the mother dies. But my sister is still with us today. And while we do not know the long term effects just yet, the fact she is still with us at all is a blessing.

But what is an Amniotic Fluid Embolism? Let’s take a look. (Note: this is a redneck blogger’s understanding of medicine and should not be accepted as medical fact)

Amniotic Fluid is the stuff a baby is suspended in before they are born. When a mother’s water breaks, a protective layer over this fluid is broken and this fluid comes running out of the mother. The mother is generally protected from this fluid.

An embolism is a clog in the blood stream. They are usually the cause of heart attacks, strokes, etc.

So an Amniotic Fluid Embolism, hereafter known as AFE, is when a clog is caused by the stuff the baby is suspended in before they are born. While AFEs are extremely rare, they are still the leading cause of death among women giving birth. And honestly, I think that says something about our health care system. The leading cause of death for birthing mothers is a condition so rare most doctors will work their entire career and never see one. At an occurrence rate of 1 in 20,000, two doctors could deliver one baby a day every day for over 27 years and there would only be one occurrence of AFE between them! (math: 20,000/365.25/2)

If you are a pregnant woman, should you be worried? No. Your chance of getting one is only 0.00005%. And since they are considered the leading cause of death among women, doctors are constantly on the look out for it.  But make no mistake, AFEs are extremely dangerous. Most of them are diagnosed at the autopsy.

My sister still has a long road ahead. If my math is correct ( and I admit it may not be) while her having an AFE is a 1 in 20,000 chance, her surviving one is a 1 in 37,000 chance! So there is very little medical data to go off of. We don’t know if that clog caused any brain damage or other hidden issue we are unaware of.  And even if not, she’ll have a tough road ahead as she heals from the three surgeries in as many days. Add on top of that her four kids all three years of age and younger and she’ll continue to need prayer going forward.

You may not believe in God, but my sister has so far survived a condition that should have killed her within minutes. I’ve seen a miracle. What more do I need for Him to show His power? I don’t believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason. The right doctor noticed the right thing at the right time and took the right actions to save my sister’s life from a condition so rare, most of us had never heard of it nor would ever face it yet so fatal it is mostly diagnosed at the autopsy.

If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.


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