Brittany Berry-Hill was looking forward to the birth of her second child when she started hemorrhaging. Paramedics rushed her by ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. She was only 28 weeks along.
Doctors placed her under close observation and transfused her with multiple units of blood. Brittany surprised her doctors when she stopped bleeding and stabilized. "I have never given someone that much blood and not had to deliver," says Dr. Debra Guinn with Legacy Medical Group - Maternal Fetal Medicine.
She diagnosed Brittany with placenta accreta, where the placenta attaches itself too deeply and too firmly into the wall of the uterus, sometimes going all the way through. Dr. Guinn put Brittany on hospitalized bed rest and suggested she put her affairs in order.
"I had to sign custody of my three year old daughter over to my mom," said Brittany. "I even had a will written while I was in the hospital, just in case."
While the baby grew and got stronger, doctors and staff came up with a plan for the safest delivery possible. Seven weeks after Brittany was first admitted, doctors and staff put their plan into motion. The morning of the delivery, they held a "dress rehearsal" for the big performance. The surgery members of the team met in the designated operating room to review roles, double check all equipment was ready and ran through the orchestration of the different stages of Brittany's surgery.
Meanwhile, in an unusual step, Brittany started in the cardiac suite. Vascular surgeon, Dr. Marcos Barnatan with Legacy Medical Group - Columbia Vascular Specialists, placed balloons in the hypogastric arteries, which feed the uterus from the right and left side of the pelvis. The balloons would be inflated to halt blood flow to the uterus, once the baby was delivered.
She then moved to a large operating room where Dr. Guinn delivered 4 pound 13 ounce, Amyr via c-section. The neo-natal intensive care staff then took Amyr away.
Doctors inflated the balloons still in her arteries and stopped blood flow to the uterus. This decreased the bleeding significantly while Dr. Guinn and a surgical oncologist performed a hysterectomy. The balloons were then deflated after the uterus was removed to allow for blood to flow normally again.
Five days later, Brittany went home. The next day, baby Amyr was discharged from the NICU and allowed to go home.
Placenta accreta occurs in an estimated 1 in 2,500 pregnancies. By comparison, it occurred in 1 in 30,000 pregnancies in 1950. The change is thought to be related to the increase in cesarean deliveries.
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