You’re pregnant. And, then the doctor’s say there are complications – placenta previa (a low-lying placenta that covers the opening of mum’s cervix). You have to have a C-section.
Okay, so it’s not the first time. This was the case for Ella Clarke, a 31-year-old mum from Torquay, Devon. But, what you, and Clarke, wouldn’t expect is to wake up days later without lower legs.
That’s right, a C-section turned into a double amputation. How?
The mum of seven had already delivered six of her little one’s via C-section. Clarke told the Daily Mail, “Because I had a traumatic labour when I was 18 with my child, I’d had six caesareans through choice with every other birth. But this time I was told I needed one for medical reasons.”
This time, the scheduled delivery wasn’t exactly surprising. For the most part Clarke’s pregnancy went on normally. Even though she had placenta previa, it wasn’t until 36 weeks that anything overly out of the normal happened. When the mum-to-be began to bleed, she was taken to Torbay hospital – where she was told that she had to have the C-section right away. Being her seventh time around, the mum said, to the Daily Mail, “I wasn’t worried at all, I was just excited about meeting my little girl.”
But, Clarke wouldn’t meet her little girl just yet. As the doctors delivered 6lb. 5oz. Winter Rose on a December day in 2015, the mum began losing blood. Clarke had a condition known as placenta acrreta. According to the King Edward Memorial Hospital, placenta accreta is an abnormally implanted placenta. It can lead to haemorrhaging and massive blood loss (in the mum).
In Clarke’s case, she lost 6 litres of blood. When the bleeding didn’t stop, doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy. The new mum was then put into a medically-induced coma. While in the coma, she needed hourly monitoring for blood clotting. This severe side effect of her condition then put her at risk for clotting in the legs. But, allegedly, the necessary monitoring didn’t happen on schedule.
The mum alleges that six hours went by in between circulation checks. Her blood began clotting, and the circulation in her legs stopped. By the time the doctors found the major clotting the tissue was emitting toxins. The possibly fatal toxins could quickly spread across Clarke’s body, causing fatal damage.
In order to save her life, the doctors made the decision to amputate both of the mum’s legs in an 8-hour surgery. When Clarke awoke, five days later, she didn’t even realise that she had been in a coma. Expecting doctors to hand her new baby girl to her, Clarke was given something much less joyous than a newborn. Doctors told her that they had put her into a coma and also had to perform a double amputation.
The formerly active mum had to settle for a wheelchair-bound life. Clarke said, “I went from being an active mum to instantly wheelchair bound. I couldn’t stop crying.” The following March she was given prosthetic legs. She also got an apology – from the hospital.
They admitted their oversight when it came to checking the mum for clots. Even so, Clarke said, “I finally got my apology, but it was five months too late.” It’s her belief that if the doctors had maintained proper clot checks (on an hourly basis) that she would never had needed the double amputation, and would be able to live the life she always had.
While the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust have publically given their sympathy to Clarke, they are yet to make a public statement on the outcome or progress of the investigation into this tragic situation.