Hope for Accreta

Local Mothers Band Together in Support of Accreta Survivors

Six local mothers from six different families, each of whom lead very different lives, all have one significant detail in common: without blood donors, they would be dead.

Placenta Accreta is a condition that occurs in some pregnant women when the placenta attaches itself too deeply into the wall of the uterus, according to American Pregnancy Association.

Approximately one in 2,500 pregnancies experience placenta accreta, increta or percreta (the type depends on the severity and deepness of the placenta attachment).

Major risks are associated with this diagnosis, including premature delivery and possible complications for the baby and hemorrhaging during birth for the mother, which can sometimes prove fatal. A hysterectomy immediately following delivery is common, leaving the mother with an inability to conceive in the future.

Each woman is thankful there was blood available when they needed it.

When former Cincinnati Public Schools teacher Sarah Spite was just 32 weeks pregnant, she began hemorrhaging and was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where she delivered her second son, Jackson, and immediately had a hysterectomy.

"Blood products were the difference between life and death during my surgery," Sarah said.

At 24-weeks, Bev Ross started having issues that stumped doctors. After doing several tests, they chalked it up to a mystery virus and sent her home with antibiotics.

Later, results of an MRI showed Bev had some level of accreta. She was able to make it to her scheduled early delivery at 36 weeks but needed a hysterectomy and several units of blood product.

"I lost most of the blood that I had," Bev said. "Without the blood that I received from donors, I wouldn't be here to tell my story."

Holly Weeks was admitted into the hospital when she was 25-weeks pregnant after a bleeding episode. She found out she had placenta percreta and was kept in the hospital for nine weeks until delivering her baby early. Holly went through a partial hysterectomy following delivery.

"I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to meet my baby girl but thanks to blood donors, I was able to not only meet her but be able to watch her and my son grow up," Holly said.

Ashley Kohler, who was diagnosed with accreta, lost approximately half of her blood volume after delivering her baby and having a hysterectomy within the same surgery.

"Without (blood donors) I may not have ever met my little girl or gotten to see my other daughters and husband again," Ashley said.

Beth Rittenhouse wasn't diagnosed with accreta until the birth of her son in 2013.

"The blood that I was given was very important," she said. "I was bleeding to death (in the operating room)."

Kristen Ammouri had a hysterectomy following a cesarean when she was 34-weeks pregnant due to placenta increta.

"I lost a lot of blood when (the doctors) were doing the hysterectomy," Kristen said. "If I didn't have the blood products I might not be here today."

Teri Werling didn't just deal with the effects of accreta once, but suffered with the diagnosis during two pregnancies. Though she hemorrhaged after her first child, doctors did not perform a hysterectomy. However, eight weeks after the birth of her second child, she was told she would have to have one.

"I was told afterwards that it was a good thing that I (delivered my daughter through c-section) because I would have bled to death (otherwise)," said Teri. "My placenta had grown all of the way through my uterus and it started to attach to my bladder. I guess you could say I was lucky and did not need blood products, but in the event that I would need them, I am so glad I live in a community that I know my doctors would have it on hand."

These women may have never known each other if not for their unfortunate commonality, but have bonded over their shared gratitude for generous blood donors who saved their lives.

"I'm so grateful for the people who donated," said Kristen. "If they didn't donate I wouldn't be here to watch my three beautiful babies grow up. I wouldn't have been able to meet my increta baby. Every day I have with them now is a blessing."

"If I could say anything to the donors who gave me blood I would tell them 'thank you' for saving my life and giving me the chance to still be here with my family," said Beth.

When asked what she would say to the donors who saved her, Bev said: "I thank you, my husband, my three children and my parent's thank you. Through your selfless giving I am here today. I will never forget how fortunate I am as a result of the generosity of strangers."

And Sarah has a message for those who choose not to donate.

"For those that don't have time (to donate), I'd like to remind you that a regular blood donation takes about an hour. We are all busy, but in the grand scheme of things everyone can find an hour of time to donate blood. The people who need the blood (cancer patients, accident victims, etc.) don't have the time for what they are going through either, but they don't have a choice. Make the time to help others. Doing so is a wonderful feeling."