A mother-of-eight who went into hospital to give birth has told of the trauma she went through after waking up six days after her C-section to discover both her legs had been amputated.
Ella Clarke, 31, from Torquay, Devon, was left devastated as doctors informed her that after five days of being in an induced coma they had made the decision to remove her lower limbs after a complication from placenta accreta, reports The Daily Mail.
‘Going into hospital to have a baby should have been the best moment of my life,’ she said. ‘Instead my world has been shattered.”
‘I was an active mum doing the school runs and chasing my family around the garden. Now I’m the complete opposite.
‘I might never be able to run after my children, or stand next to them. No human being should ever have to experience this after it could have so easily been avoided.’
A solicitor is now acting on Ella’s behalf to launch legal action against the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
At her 20 week scan the midwife informed them she had low lying placenta, more commonly known as placenta previa.
If not given proper attention, the condition can cause trouble at the time of delivery due to excessive bleeding and a C-section section may be needed.
Ella was monitored throughout the pregnancy and doctors decided she would need a C-section when the time came.
But the happy couple were excited to also find out they were having a little girl.
She said: ‘Because I had a traumatic labour when I was 18 with my first child, I’d had six caesareans through choice with every other birth. But this time I was told I needed one for medical reasons.
‘It was the first time I’d suffered from placenta previa but I wasn’t nervous about being cut open again to have a baby – as I was a pro by now.’
‘I wasn’t worried at all, I was just excited about meeting my little girl,’ she said.
In December 2015, doctors delivered Winter Rose weighing 6lb 5oz, but half an hour into the procedure Ella began to lose a lot of blood.
“I went from being an active mum to instantly wheelchair bound. I couldn’t stop crying”
She lost six litres of blood due to a dangerous complication called placenta accreta which can be common with women who have had C-sections in the past. The placenta grows on the uterine wall and is more likely to attach itself to the wall when there’s scarring from previous caesarean sections. The condition increases the risk of haemorrhage, and can even leave other organs damaged.
Doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy on Ella and gave her five blood transfusions – which in almost all cases of placenta accreta is required to save the mother’s life.
She was then placed in an induced coma and transferred to intensive care, reports The Daily Mail.
Doctors then had to monitor her hourly for the next 24 hours as one of the condition’s dangerous side effects is that it causes problems with blood clotting.
She said: ‘I had no idea what was going on. I was put to sleep for the C-section and then put immediately into an induced coma when things started to go wrong.
‘I now know it’s common for blood to clot in the legs in this situation, so it was imperative they monitored me every hour.’
“ I thought I was waking up from my C-section. I expected my beautiful little baby girl to be passed to me”
But she alleges that doctors forgot to check her and six hours passed before she was seen. By this point, the blood in her legs had clotted and circulation had stopped – starving her lower limbs of blood supply.
Still in an induced coma, Ella was rushed into theatre where two surgeons battled to recover circulation in both legs.
But it was too late, her tissue was giving off poisonous toxins that could be potentially fatal. If doctors didn’t act quickly it would spread to other areas of her body and her heart would stop.
In that moment doctors decided to amputate both her legs below the knee. It was a decision that would save her life, but also change it forever.
Doctors informed Ian of the situation and although he was ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ he told them to do whatever it took to save her life.
After eight hours of surgery Ella was taken to recovery, and five days later she woke up from the induced coma.
She said: ‘I remember the moment I woke up. I thought I was waking up from my C-section. I expected my beautiful little baby girl to be passed to me. I had no idea I’d been in a coma.
‘Instead I was told doctors had amputated my legs after complications with my C-section. At the time I was in a haze of medication and I don’t think it really sunk in.
‘But the reality of the situation soon started to hit home when Winter Rose was placed in my arms and my restricted future flashed before me.
‘I remember tears rolling down my cheeks and Ian cuddling me. He was crying too.
‘I had so many questions running through my head. But when my daughter was brought to me all of those faded away for a moment.
‘A thoughtless oversight has cost me so much. I will never stand on my own two feet again and that makes me shudder.
‘I knew the risks of blood loss, but I never expected to wake up three days later without my legs.’
She says she believes that if doctors had been checking her hourly, she’d be fit and ‘be able to play with my beautiful five-month-old baby like any other normal mother.
‘Instead I’m a shadow of my former self and my kids are now scared to cuddle me because my stumps scare them.”
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