Nurse, baby saved after rare pregnancy complication

Nurse, baby saved after rare pregnancy complication

Despite being a labor and delivery nurse for 12 years, nothing prepared Jamie Miller to face what lay ahead. But surrounded by her fellow compassionate team members at Advocate Condell Medical Center, Jamie survived and so did baby Michael.

After losing their daughter, Lauren, to pediatric cancer a few years ago, Jamie Miller and her family thought the worst was over. Following a healthy pregnancy, the Millers were ready to welcome their third child, a boy that they were waiting to name until he was born.

Jamie was induced at Advocate Condell Medical Center – the hospital where she delivered her other two children, where she had worked as a nurse, and one of the sites where she now serves as an educator. Suddenly, her chest exploded in pain, and she began vomiting blood. Knowing something was wrong, she focused on letting the team take care of her. The last thing she remembers is asking to be put to sleep.

Her care team started working quickly and noticed the signs of an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), a rare but very serious pregnancy complication that is often life threatening for both mom and baby. An AFE mostly likely occurs when amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair or other debris enters the mother’s blood stream, causing cardiovascular collapse. It may occur in healthy women during labor, as was Jamie’s case, or during cesarean section, during the second trimester or up to 48-hours after delivery. It is unpredictable and unpreventable, and has no known cause.

“I delivered Jamie’s other two children, and this was not what was supposed to happen,” said Dr. Dianna Kim, an OB/GYN at Condell. In practice for more than 23 years, Dr. Kim said this is the first amniotic fluid embolism that she’s seen.

AFEs occur suddenly and mothers may experience cough, chills, shivering, trouble breathing, altered mental status, a sudden drop in blood pressure, cardiac arrest, severe hemorrhage, and a decline in fetal heart rate.

To save Jamie and her baby, the team performed an emergency cesarean section, resuscitated the newborn, and then worked to stabilize Jamie. In total, Jamie needed 65 units of blood products over the course of her treatment.

For Jamie, it’s hard to believe that she came that close to death. “When you think you’ve exhausted every resource, when do you call it on someone you’re trying to save?” Jamie said. “The fact that they didn’t give up; I’m beyond grateful.”

Dr. Kim credits the success to the team saying, “Everyone was exactly where they needed to be, and the stars aligned for such a great outcome.”

A week after he was born, Jamie was able to meet her baby and finally, the family named him – Michael. Ten days after she was induced, cheered on by her care team, Jamie went home to continue her recovery with Michael by her side. Three months after the birth, mom and baby have made a full recovery.


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About the Author

Kristen Johnson
Kristen Johnson

Kristen Johnson, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She previously worked as a speechwriter and staffer on Capitol Hill. She enjoys running marathons, good coffee and exploring Chicago’s many neighborhoods.