Medical City Healthcare - October 03, 2022
by Becky Frusher
Devon Johnson, Nicole Johnson and their child

Devon Johnson says his wife Nicole’s first pregnancy was “as perfect as you can get.” However, things quickly took a different turn when what the couple thought would be a joyous delivery quickly turned into a medical emergency. If not for the skilled care team at Medical City Lewisville and a number of generous blood donors, it may very well have ended in a devastating tragedy.  

The sudden and life-threatening birth complication Nicole experienced during the delivery of her baby girl, Gentry, is called an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE).

“AFE is a rare and often catastrophic condition, and it is usually characterized by a cardiovascular collapse and severe hemorrhage,” says Laura S. Finger, MD, Nicole’s OB-GYN. “The singular most important thing is the immediate and rapid transfusion of blood products, stabilization of the mom and delivery of the baby.” 

AFE occurs when the amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby in the uterus enters the mother’s bloodstream. It happens most frequently during delivery or immediately following childbirth. Nicole was induced a week early due to Gentry’s large size and experienced the embolism as soon as her water was broken. 

“Time was so critical,” Dr. Finger says. “In that moment, the clock started. Gentry wasn’t getting any oxygen and not much blood. If this had happened in another facility, she might not have made it. But here at Medical City Lewisville, she had the immediate and rapid response of a group, including the nurses and doctors, and a rapid transfusion of blood. That makes all the difference in the ability to save moms’ lives.”

Specialized care for moms and babies.

Nicole required emergency surgery, a massive transfusion of 30 units of blood, ICU care for her and neonatal intensive care for Gentry. Medical City Lewisville’s Level III NICU serves critically ill and premature infants who require specialized, focused care. 

The Johnsons appreciated the expert, compassionate treatment they received from the staff. 

“We were only here, eight days, nine days, and it felt like we got so close with them so fast,” Nicole says. “It was the best experience for the worst experience of our life.” 

Dr. Finger is thankful for the staff as well. 

“You really appreciate a special group of people when something like this happens,” she says. “People have said, ‘You saved her life.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh no, everybody saved her life. Everybody. We all relied on each other. I’m so proud and grateful to be able to work at Medical City Lewisville, where they were able to give such excellent care in saving her life and her baby’s life.” 

A close up of Devon Johnson, Nicole Johnson and their child

AFE awareness.

Following their unexpected childbirth experience, the Johnsons have begun to advocate for greater awareness about AFE and the importance of blood donations.

Best of all, they are happy to be a healthy family of three.

 “We get to enjoy our baby girl at home,” says Devon. “She’s acting like a normal baby, doing everything a baby should, and we get to enjoy every bit of it.”  

Medical City Healthcare delivers healthier tomorrows for moms, babies and families. Find the perfect doctor for you or your baby or call our free, 24/7 Ask a Nurse hotline.

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