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A Piece of My Mind
February 24, 2015

For What It’s Worth

Author Affiliations
  • 1Section of Critical Care, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA. 2015;313(8):799-800. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.15004

About a year ago, I died. Just for a few minutes, but long enough that I had a round of chest compressions so deep my sternum ached for weeks. At times my ribs hurt more than the long incision running down my belly, made in haste to control the bleeding that was taking my life.

After my daughter was born, following a healthy pregnancy and normal term vaginal delivery, I developed acute disseminated intravascular coagulation with massive hemorrhage, multiorgan failure, and cardiac arrest. One round of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, three surgical teams, and 60 units of blood later, I was recovering on a ventilator in the ICU. When I awoke, I learned what an amniotic fluid embolus was, and that I had survived one. It was a good save, especially for the first week in July.

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