Mother Survives Rare Complication During Delivery
Hospitals are the setting for daily minor miracles of recovery and rescue. Yet some of these stories stand out vividly because of the rarity of the patients medical condition, the survival odds in the case and the precise timing and teamwork involved in saving a precious life. The case of Stephanie Caruso and her infant daughter Angelica Marie is an illustration of how miracles can happen.
Stephanie and Tony Caruso, residents of Millersville and parents of two-year-old Lillian, were expecting their second child to be delivered by Caesarian on March 6 nearly three weeks prior to the official March 25 due date. The early delivery was deemed necessary by AAMC obstetri-cian Dr. Isidro R. Martinez, who had diagnosed Stephanie with placenta previa, a potentially dangerous situation for both mother and baby. The condition involves an abnormal implantation of the placenta at or near the internal opening of the uterine cervix, so that it tends to precede the child at birth and may cause severe maternal hemorrhaging.
Everything else about the pregnancy seemed normal. In fact, Stephanie felt well enough to host a 60th birthday for Tonys mother on January 21. Her husband and other rela-tives pitched in and Stephanie was careful not to over-do. When the last of the 50 guests had gone home (Lillian was spending the night with her grandmother), Stephanie and Tony watched the 11 oclock news and went to bed.
Minutes later, a life-and-death rollercoaster ride began. Stephanie staggered from her bed, bleeding heavily as she headed towards the bathroom. Tony ran to her side, dialing the doctors office as he held her steady. A return call came within minutes. AAMC obstetrician Nicole Luecke, M.D., covering for Dr. Martinez, said she would meet them right away at the Clatanoff Pavilion.
It was about 11:40 p.m. when the couple arrived at the hospital after a record-breaking drive along winding roads in Tonys Pathfinder. Stephanie continued to lose blood and could feel the baby thrashing violently in her womb. They were met at the hospital by Dr. Luecke and anesthesiologist Terry Walman, M.D. Tony was given sterile scrubs to put on over his clothes and held his wifes hand as they wheeled her into the operating room.
I felt like I was part of the team as four of us hoisted Stephanie onto the table, each taking a corner of the blanket she was lying on, said Tony. His recollections of what happened next are vivid. Dr. Leuke, assisted by in-house obstetrician Walter Lockhart, M.D., delivered a fragile but perfectly formed three-pound, two-ounce baby girl. As the doctors were completing the procedure, Stephanie suddenly went into a seizure, caused by a rare amniotic fluid embolism. A phenomenon that occurs in about one out of every 20,000 deliveries, the condition has a mortality rate of 50 percent, and those who survive usually suffer some degree of brain damage.
Dr. Walman swiftly took charge, ordering Tony from the room as the team began the chest compressions that revived Stephanie after cardiac arrest caused by the amniotic fluid emboli. After the patient was stabilized, she was admitted to the intensive care unit under the surveillance of pulmonary specialist Dr. Ira Weinstein. Tony was torn — stay with the baby or go with his wife? Informed of the life-and-death nature of Stephanies situation, he left his newborn in the care of the dedicated nurses at AAMCs Level III+ Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and rushed to Stephanies bedside. Stephanie, struggling valiantly to survive, received round-the-clock care in AAMCs Intensive Care Unit. Tony kept constant vigil, leaving for short periods of time to hold his infant daughter in the NICU. Once out of danger, Stephanie was moved back to the Clatanoff Pavilion to be closer to her baby, Angelica Marie, now thriving under the nurturing care of the NICU nursing staff and neonatologist Yann-Yann Lin, M.D.
Finally, on February 28, Tony took Stephanie and Angelica Marie home to Millersville, where they were joyfully welcomed by big sister Lillian and family members. On April 5, the family celebrated Stephanies 35th birthday — a milestone achieved because of her determination to survive, her husbands belief in miracles and the amazing medicine practiced every day by the dedicated medical professionals at AAMC.
Many members of AAMCs staff were involved in the team effort that saved the lives of Stephanie Caruso and her baby and helped Tony Caruso through the harrowing ordeal, among them doctors Walman, Luecke, Martinez, Lockhart, Weinstein, and Lin; respiratory therapists Lisa Brownhuff, Bryan Frazier and Michael Brown; nurses Sharon Kessinger, Glennis Morris, Julie Butler, Kerstin Becker, Anna Melina, Mary Lou Turner, Julie Whiteside, Michael Warren, Melissa McCullum, Cathy Lupfer, Adella Beans, Lynette Crook, Holly Greever, and Angela McCutcheon; and Clatanoff Pavilion unit secretary Kris Anhalt. Their extraordinary lifesaving efforts were recognized at a special ceremony organized by AAMCs Leadership Council.