The 43-year-old woman suffered an amniotic fluid embolism, organ failure, and cardiac arrest during a Caesarean section surgery. Doctors immediately connected her to an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) life support machine and then performed surgery to remove a clot from her lung.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an amniotic fluid embolism is a rare-but-serious condition that occurs when amniotic fluid—the fluid that surrounds a baby in the uterus during pregnancy—or fetal material, such as hair, enters the maternal bloodstream.
Last week, the woman was disconnected from the ECMO machine when her condition improved, marking one of the few cases in which a woman has ever survived an amniotic fluid embolism.
The head of the women’s unit at Beilinson Hospital, Arnon Vizhnitzer, said that two women in Israel die every year from amniotic fluid embolisms.
“The rare complication of amniotic fluid embolism endangered the life of the woman giving birth. We are proud that we succeeded in saving her life,” said Vizhnitzer, the Times of Israel reported.
“I hope that because of this breakthrough, lives of additional pregnant women in Israel will be saved,” added Dan Arvut, head of cardiothoracic surgery at Beilinson.
An ECMO machine provides both cardiac and respiratory support to people whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange to sustain life. It works by removing blood from a person’s body, removing carbon dioxide, and then oxygenating red blood cells.