A 32-year-old Palestinian woman in her third trimester of pregnancy developed blood clots and bruises and began to feel weak. Her local physicians were puzzled and recommended that she consult experts at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem.
Thanks to a quick diagnosis and treatment by Hadassah’s Intensive Care Unit specialists, the woman was saved and delivered a healthy baby boy in the ICU.
“The patient turned out to have a very rare disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), and needed urgent care,” explained obstetrics resident Dr. Roy Zigron and hematologist Dr. Joseph Kalish, who treated the patient. TTP is a rare (1 in 25,000 pregnancies) disorder of the blood-coagulation system that causes extensive microscopic clots to form in the small blood vessels throughout the body. These clots can damage many organs, including the kidneys, heart, brain, and nervous system. Without treatment with plasma exchange (plasmapheresis), the fatality rate is about 95 percent.
“To save the woman and her baby from near-certain death, her plasma needed to be filtered using hemodialysis equipment. In the meantime, the baby was delivered right in the intensive care unit!” relates Dr. Kalish.
Having a baby delivered in the intensive care unit “is a rare but great pleasure,” comments Prof. Vernon Van Heerden, head of the ICU. “Every day we deal with life and death issues, and we were all delighted to have this healthy baby boy emerge in our unit.”
Hadassah midwife Zohar Zusman came from the maternity delivery unit to lend a hand. “We have many unusual experiences in delivering babies, but this one was unique. I met a woman in a lot of pain and fear. I tried to calm her with my limited Arabic. After delivery, I left the baby in her arms for longer than usual since she, herself, needed care, and I knew she wouldn’t see him again for a while.”
Both mom and baby are doing fine. When the mom’s brother picked her up from the hospital, he noted, “We never expected to receive such a warm welcome. The ability to diagnose my sister’s disease and save her, so that she can come home with an adorable baby, displays your extraordinary professionalism. I’m so happy we came here and can’t thank the Hadassah staff enough.”