Mom Delivers Healthy Baby, But Doctors Take One Look At Her Placenta And Leave It Inside Her

By: Barbara Diamond/Little Things  At around 28 weeks pregnant, Kristen Terlizzi’s ultrasound images started looking abnormal. There was suddenly no visible separation between her placenta, uterus, and bladder.

Kristen was suffering from a condition called placenta percreta, in which the placenta invades the uterine wall and potentially other vital organs.

Kristen put her trust in Stanford Health Care. In July 2014, she had a team of 30 multidisciplinary surgeons and nurses helping to safely deliver her son, Leo.

When doctors went to assess and remove Kristen’s placenta, they discovered the invasion was much worse than expected. The new mom was at risk of infection and spontaneous hemorrhaging.

In an unprecedented medical move, doctors decided to abort mission on the surgery. Instead, they closed her up with the entire placenta untouched and still inside her body.

Over the next three days, Kristen was transferred from one hospital wing to the next. She hadn’t yet met Leo. Staff worked tirelessly to reunite the worried mom with her newborn baby. But her medical nightmare was far from over.

A blood test revealed that Kristen was approaching liver failure. When Leo was 7 weeks old, she underwent a major emergency operation.

Kristen’s experience at Stanford Health Care prompted her to become a Stanford Hospital volunteer. “I felt like I had this team of advisors, this team of people rooting for me,” she said. “It’s the human experiences that really leave me in awe.”

Now, Kristen is a patient advocate for maternal health and patient safety. She also speaks to groups across the country about placenta accreta and blood donation. Just amazing.

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