HELLP Syndrome

The Courier Journal just published an article (https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/investigations/2018/07/26/delivery-nearly-killed-louisville-mom/1060976001/) on a Louisville woman who nearly died during childbirth from a relatively rare condition called HELLP Syndrome. HELLP is a condition that can seriously affect a pregnancy and the birth of a child. It only happens in about 1 or 2 cases of 1,000 pregnancies, but it can be life threatening for the mother and the child. HELLP is associated with preeclampsia in about 20% of cases. Preeclampsia will cause high blood pressure in the mother and can cause organs, often the kidney, to stop functioning. Usually, preeclampsia will show up around the 20th week of pregnancy.

WHAT IS HELLP SYNDROME?

The acronym ‘HELLP’ refers to the blood and liver problems associated with the condition.

  • H – Hemolysis - the breakdown of red blood cells which can lead to anemia
  • EL – Elevated liver enzymes – poor functioning of the liver
  • LP – Low platelet count – blood cannot clot, possibly resulting in severe bleeding

SYMPTOMS OF HELLP

Symptoms of HELLP can be difficult to identify. Expectant mothers with HELLP may feel flu-like symptoms. Other signs include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Sudden or excessive weight gain
  • Swelling
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Shoulder pain
  • Pain with deep breathing
  • Upper belly pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE HELLP OR PREECLAMPSIA:

Pregnant mothers experiencing these symptoms should immediately consult a doctor. A Doctor will look for abdominal tenderness and check blood pressure. He or she may also run blood and urine tests.

Often times if HELLP is diagnosed, the doctor will want to deliver the baby as soon as possible. If that is not possible, blood pressure medicine, seizure medicine and bedrest may be recommended for the mother. It is most important to catch HELLP syndrome in the early stages, otherwise 25% of women can suffer serious complications, such as:

  • Placental Abruption (separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before birth of child)
  • Pulmonary Edma – fluid build-up in the lungs
  • Blood Clotting problems
  • Liver rupture
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Death

SHOULD YOU CALL A LOUISVILLE KENTUCKY BIRTH INJURY ATTORNEY?

If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered as the result of a failure to timely diagnose HELLP syndrome or preeclampsia or has experienced poor prenatal care once diagnosed with HELLP or preeclampsia, you may want to talk to a Kentucky attorney who can help you in understanding if you have a case against a doctor, nurse or other medical provider. Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC will be more than happy to listen to your concerns and allegations and answer your questions. Contact Brett by calling (502)242-8877 or fill out the contact form on this page and submit it to Brett.

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