Mary Frances Macleod

Mary Frances Macleod

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"She would not be here today without the blood bank!"

The birth of a child is often the most memorable experience in a couple’s life. For Maureen MacLeod and Tom Herman a routine delivery, this July turned into a nightmare when Maureen developed amniotic fluid embolism. Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a rare and often catastrophic obstetric emergency that occurs when amniotic fluid — the fluid that surrounds a baby in the uterus during pregnancy — or fetal material, such as fetal cells, enters the mother’s bloodstream. Amniotic fluid embolism is most likely to occur during delivery or immediately afterward and accounts for up to 10% of maternal deaths in the United States.

MacLeod Family2

Compounding the crisis, Maureen developed Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), a pathological process characterized by the widespread activation of the clotting cascade that results in the formation of blood clots in the small blood vessels throughout the body. This leads to compromise of tissue blood flow and can ultimately lead to multiple organ damage. In addition, as the coagulation process consumes clotting factors and platelets, normal clotting is disrupted and severe bleeding can occur from various sites.

Fortunately, for Maureen and her baby Mary Frances, Dr. Alla Skalnyi and her team at Sutter Health’s Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame were prepared for such an emergency. It would take 35 units of blood products used during eight hours of surgery and followed by a stay in the ICU to stabilize Maureen. Maureen’s mother Rosemary exclaimed afterward, “She would not be here today without the blood bank!!”

It is an amazing story with a happy ending, yet there is more to tell. Maureen’s father Steve MacLeod is a long-time blood and platelet donor. He has made more than 100 platelet donations and remarkably he donated platelets at BCP’s Peninsula Center just days before his daughter needed a vast supply. Do you think he helped save her life? We will never know for sure, but we do know that blood donors save lives every day.

Please donate blood to save the lives of patients like Maureen.


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