Caitlyn Curtis's journey to motherhood was a rollercoaster ride, filled with joy and challenges. At 37 weeks, Caitlyn gave birth to fraternal twins Brixton and Bowie Short via a planned c-section at the Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center at MemorialCare Miller Children's & Women's Hospital Long Beach. After delivering her two boys, Caitlyn had sudden and intense hemorrhage. She was losing blood fast and faced two options: a hysterectomy, which would prevent her from having any more children, or a minimally invasive interventional radiology procedure.
An interventional radiology procedure is not an option at many community hospitals, leaving patients to undergo life-altering surgery. Luckily for Caitlyn, her maternity care was at a full-service maternity and children’s hospital – providing her access to minimally invasive procedures and advanced technology, with some of the most skilled physicians in the nation.
Kenneth H. Spielvogel, M.D., FACOG, OB/GYN, MemorialCare Medical Group – Long Beach at Douglas Park, was the attending physician at Miller Children's & Women's at the time Caitlyn gave birth and presented her with the two options.
"Our goal at that moment was to stop the hemorrhage, and we wanted to give Caitlyn the best options to do so, however, one option would be a tad more invasive and prevent her from having more kids," said Dr. Spielvogel. "The other option, interventional radiology, would allow Caitlyn the opportunity to have more kids, and it would be done minimally invasively, meaning no major surgery and quicker recovery time. "
Caitlyn was able to have the interventional radiology procedure, called an embolization, to stop the bleeding.
“An embolization procedure is a minimally invasive procedure, where sophisticated particles or coils are injected into the bleeding site to close off or clog up the bleeding,” says David Tahour, M.D., director, Vascular & Interventional Radiology, MemorialCare Imagining Center. “This procedure gives women another chance to have children, even during an emergency situation.”
A few hours and four blood transfusions later, Caitlyn was reunited with her twin boys, Bowie and Brixton.
"Thank goodness there is an onsite blood donation center at Long Beach Medical Center," said Caitlyn. "If it wasn't for that and Dr. Tahour and Dr. Spielvogel's expertise, I'm not sure I would be here today."
When Caitlyn returned for her six-week checkup with her OB/GYN, Elizabeth West, M.D., FACOG, OB/GYN, MemorialCare Miller Children's & Women's Hospital Long Beach, she had a Dilation and Curettage (D&C) done, a procedure that removes tissue from inside the uterus to treat and diagnose certain uterine conditions – such as heavy bleeding – to better understand what might have caused Caitlyn to hemorrhage. When Dr. West went to perform the procedure, she noticed that Caitlyn was experiencing another hemorrhage. After an ultrasound confirmed blood in her uterus, Caitlyn was rushed back to Miller Children's & Women's hospital via ambulance.
When Caitlyn arrived at Miller Children’s & Women’s Dr. Tahour ordered a CT scan that revealed the cause of her hemorrhages. It was an abnormality in her uterus, called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is rare, presenting in about 1 in 100,000 people. After pinpointing the issue, Dr. Tahour performed a second interventional radiology procedure. Since then, Caitlyn has remained healthy and has been enjoying her time with her twin boys.
"The human body is amazing, and childbirth can be both miraculous and challenging," says Dr. Tahour. "With Caitlyn's hemorrhages, we were able to pinpoint where they were coming from and stop the bleeding, which allowed her to begin her recovery from the c-section."
After Caitlyn's second hemorrhage, she stayed one night in the hospital for observation and was released back to her boys the next day. It wasn't long before she was feeling better and able to walk out of the hospital.
"I never expected to have a hemorrhage after my c-section," said Caitlyn. "But the care and support I received from Dr. West, Dr. Spielvogel, Dr. Tahour, the nurses, and other hospital staff was incredible. Because of them and my family's support, I overcame it and became the mother I always dreamed of being."