When a young mother went to the hospital to have a planned c-section, she never thought she would wake up six days later to discover both her legs had been amputated. However, that is exactly what happened to 31-year-old Ella Clarke of Torquay, Devon.
Clarke and her husband, Ian Ross, 32, already had seven other children — six of them who were delivered via c-section — when they went to Torbay Hospital in Torquay in December of 2015 to welcome their eighth child, a baby girl. Ella and Ian were told midway through the pregnancy that she would have to have a cesarean because she had developed placenta previa, a serious condition, defined by American Pregnancy as a condition where the placenta lies low in the uterus and partially or completely covers the cervix.
Placenta previa affects approximately one-in-200 women during their third trimester of pregnancy, and can cause the placenta to separate from the uterine wall as the cervix begins to dilate during labor. This is why Ella’s doctors decided to go ahead and schedule Ella for a cesarean.
Ella was put to sleep while the doctors operated. When she woke up, she thought she was just coming around from the anesthesia — what she didn’t know was that she was now a double amputee. According to Baby Center, the complications started about 30 minutes into the procedure. The doctors realized Clarke had developed placenta accreta, which happens when a woman’s placenta embeds too deep into the uterine wall. Ella started severely hemorrhaging, which caused the doctors to have to perform an emergency hysterectomy, and five blood transfusions. While Ella’s daughter, Winter Rose, was fine, Clarke was placed in a medically induced coma and sent to intensive care.
Clarke spent the next six days in a coma, and during that time, she was supposed to have been closely monitored for blood clotting. However, six hours reportedly went by before Ella was checked, leading to clotting in both of her legs. Doctors rushed Clarke to surgery and tried their hardest to restore circulation to her legs, however it was too late and they were forced to amputate both limbs below the knee.
“Going into hospital to have a baby should have been the best moment of my life,” Ella told the Daily Mail. “Instead my world has been shattered.”
— Lisa Arneill (@growingyourbaby) June 4, 2016
“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.”
Clarke spent the next 23 days in the hospital recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally. In March, 2016, she received counseling and prosthetic legs, which she is still trying to adjust to. A meeting was later set up at the hospital, where Ella and Ian were told of the hospital’s oversight and were issued an apology.
“A thoughtless oversight has cost me so much. I will never stand on my own two feet again and that makes me shudder,” she said. “I knew the risks of blood loss, but I never expected to wake up three days later without my legs.”
A spokesman for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust issued a statement regarding the unfortunate incident.
“We would like to offer our sympathy to Ms. Clarke,” the spokesperson said. “We are carrying out a full and thorough investigation and at this time it is not appropriate for us to make further comment. We are in regular discussion with Ms. Clarke and her partner to ensure they are kept up to date.”
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