AFE Survivor, Allison C

Nov 17, 2022 | AFE Stories, AFE Survivor, Uncategorized

My AFE happened in December 2012 when my 3rd boy was born. I went to hospital to be induced on the 19th of December as there wasn’t going to be an OB/GYNs at the local hospital over the Christmas period. The next evening on the 20th, at 6.30 pm, my beautiful boy Levi was born. Shortly after, I felt incredibly nauseous, my eyesight went blurry, and then it went black. I then felt a warm wetness take over my body, and I started to bleed out. I suffered a torrential PPH, and all the other doctors and the anaesthetist were called in as I was rushed off to theatre. DIC was now in full swing. I was put under general anaesthetic and intubated, had an adrenaline infusion going to keep my heart pumping, as well as being given other drugs to try and stop the bleeding. I also received blood and blood products as I had lost over 6.5 litres of blood. I had circulatory failure, cyanosis, and hypotension. My BP was so low it couldn’t even be detected on the theatre monitors at times. Other times it was numbers like 42/27. I was packed with 13 sponges and a bakri balloon, as well as having bimanual compression for over 2 hours. The retrieval helicopter was called in to take me to Canberra hospital, where a team of doctors and much other staff were waiting for me. I remained hemodynamically unstable en route. After three failed attempts at embolisation of both uterine arteries, and given a massive transfusion of 46 units of blood, FFP etc, and large amounts of drugs to deal with DIC and bleeding. The bleeding finally stopped. At 9.32 am (over 14hrs since it started), I was finally taken from the theatre and placed in the ICU, where I was kept sedated. I was paralysed, intubated, and ventilated.

Levi was a very healthy boy and was brought to the Canberra hospital via road ambulance that day to be looked after by the maternity staff. They brought him in to see me in ICU many times, but I don’t remember any of it.

Alison Coombs, AFE Survivor with husband and 3 sons

When they tried to extubate me, within a very short time, I started having seizure-like activity, became cyanosed, sats dropped to 25 %, and went into respiratory arrest, ICU emergency call was activated. The doctors and everyone else ran to me, where I was sedated and intubated again. I ended up spending over two weeks in hospital. I had renal failure, and my x-rays showed I had an enlarged main pulmonary artery and a few lung issues, but I made (what I’ve been told so many times and is even in my notes) an AMAZING recovery, despite the number of times in hospital I heard the words “you’re the luckiest person I know” and even being told “you shouldn’t be alive” (which I hated hearing).

I had to have blood tests for a long time after leaving the hospital to check for Sheehan’s syndrome and keep an eye on other things going on with my blood. I also had to check in with a nephrologist until given the all-clear that my kidney function was good again.

Eight months after all this, I had to return to the same hospital for a partial hysterectomy.

Alison Coombs, AFE Survivor

I got a copy of my medical records the year after Levi was born. I tried reading them, but it freaked me out, and I put them away for four years. Then, when I started to read them again, I went from scared to fascinated and amazed. I’ve always loved life and am an incredibly positive, happy person, but for me, this near-death experience has just made me love life even more. I’m just so super happy to get the chance to wake up each morning.

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