A Lemoore mother experienced a frightening pregnancy event, one that risked her and her baby’s life. She had a placenta accreta, and doctors say it’s occurring more in pregnant patients now than in years before as Cesarean deliveries increase.
This is every day life for mother of three Katie Cochran. She’s grateful to be settled at home today with her children, following a life-threatening health scare last year. She was about 27 weeks pregnant with her third child, son Mark Jason, when she started bleeding. She had also tested positive for the Coronavirus.
“They did an ultrasound and that’s when they first discovered that it looked like I had previa, placenta previa,” said Katie.
Placenta previa is when the placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix. But Dr. Pamela Emeney – who is the Medical Director for the University Obstetrics & Gynecology Center at Community Regional Medical Center – found Katie had something much more serious. Katie had placenta accreta. Community Regional is the only place in the region equipped with special expertise and technology to handle these challenging cases.
Dr. Emeney said, “What normally happens is, when you get pregnant and have a baby after you deliver the placenta comes off, easily peels off, an accreta is when the placenta grows abnormally into the uterus.. It can grow like weeds of a root of a tree and grow abnormal. And what happens is, if that’s pulled incorrectly you can bleed to death quite quickly.”
Katie’s case was placenta percreta, where her placenta grew onto another organ.
“Mine actually went totally through the uterus and attached itself to my bladder,” Katie stated.
Katie had Cesarean sections with her two older children, which made her at higher risk for placenta percreta.
Dr. Emeney explained, “It’s really a random event that happens. And if you happen to be unlucky enough that you had one c-section and your placenta grows over it, on the second one you may have this. We’ve had other women who have had five, six, nine c-sections and this never happened, and that’s a little bit the luck of draw.”
Dr. Emeney explains, high risk pregnant patients like Katie receive the most excellent care with their multi-specialty team, “We have general surgery, radiology, anesthesia, interventional radiologists, colorectal surgeons, trauma surgeons, urologist, NICU, lactation specialists, social work. It’s a true multi-disciplinary, intra-disciplinary team that has been set up to help women who have this event called an accreta.”
At around 35 weeks, Katie prepared to have another Cesarean section to deliver baby MJ.
“So they ended up doing what’s called a Cesarean hysterectomy, where because my placenta was through my uterus, they were not able to detach it from the uterus, so they ended up taking the whole uterus out,” Katie said.
Dr. Emeney continued, “Probably 90-percent of the time it does end in a hysterectomy, but there are times it doesn’t. If it’s focal, small, not involving the cervix which is the bottom of the uterus, we can sometimes preserve the uterus, that is not established until you’re in the operating room.”
And Katie praises the surgical team at Community Regional, especially Dr. Emeney, for saving her and baby MJ.
Katie ended, “She walked me through the entire procedure essentially, and it just made us feel like she knows exactly what she’s doing. She is very prepared, and we feel very confident in her and the entire team that took care of us.”
Dr. Emeney said placenta accreta is occurring more because of the increased rate of Cesarean deliveries. Always talk to your doctor and be sure to receive all of your prenatal care if you are pregnant.