Ella Clarke of Torquay, Devon in England was no stranger to c-sections. The now mother of eight had given birth to six of her children using the procedure. The 31-year old found out she was expecting child number eight just a short while after giving birth to child number seven. She had elected in the past to have a c-section, but with the birth of the eighth child she was required to have the procedure done due to a complication. Clarke was diagnosed with placenta previa at her 20 week appointment. With this condition, at delivery time, there is a risk of excessive bleeding for the mother. Because of this, a c-section might be required and this is exactly what Clarke’s doctors decided to do. As she had never had trouble with her c-sections before she wasn’t worried when she headed into the hospital to give birth in December of 2015. She was delivering at 36 weeks because she had started bleeding.
She was put under for the c-section and didn’t wake up until six days later . . . with both her lower legs amputated.
Her daughter, Winter Rose, was delivered safely, but according to the Daily Mail, “half an hour into the procedure Ella began to lose a lot of blood” due to a complication, placenta accreta. This is when “[t]he placenta grows on the uterine wall and is more likely to attach itself to the wall when there’s scarring from previous caesarean sections. The condition increases the risk of hemorrhage, and can even leave other organs damaged.” It can be common in women who have had prior c-sections.
To save her life, Clarke immediately underwent an emergency hysterectomy and she received five blood transfusions. After the surgery, doctors put her in a medically induced coma. The 24 hours post-surgery were critical and she needed constant monitoring because “one of the condition’s dangerous side effects is that it causes problems with blood clotting.” Clarke told the Daily Mail, “it was imperative they monitored me every hour.” However, Clarke “alleges that doctors forgot to check her and six hours passed before she was seen. By this point, the blood in her legs had clotted and circulation had stopped – starving her lower limbs of blood supply.” She was rushed into surgery where doctors attempted to save her legs but ended up having to amputate them below the knee to prevent the spread of poisonous toxins to the rest of her body.
When Clarke awoke she was told what had happened. She stated that the reality of her situation didn’t really sink in until she held her daughter and realized the physical limitations she now faced as a mom. She told the Daily Mail, “I went from being an active mum to instantly wheelchair bound. I couldn’t stop crying.” She was in the hospital another 23 days. She said the incident has seriously impacted her family. Clarke and her partner, Ian Ross, wanted to know how this could have happened. At a meeting with the hospital, “[t]he couple were informed of the hospital’s oversight and were issued an apology.” Clarke “believes that if doctors had been checking her hourly, she’d be fit and ‘be able to play with my beautiful five-month-old baby like any other normal mother.” She has spoken with a solicitor who is starting a case against the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.