HAVING a baby is a gift, so when mum Samantha Crosbie welcomed her little girl into the world, she was overjoyed.
But during her pregnancy the 32-year-old had struggled with pain – making it hard for her to move around.
Sadly, just five weeks after a call to her beloved mum in which she said her daughter had been 'talking gibberish', her life was cut short.
Medics found that she had suffered a Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
This is a blocked blood vessel in the lungs and heart, which occurs when a blood clot, usually from the veins of the legs breaks off and travels to the lungs.
Pregnant women are at an increased risk of the condition – although it's extremely rare.
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After giving birth to little Betty, Samantha seemed to recover fast, and aside from an ear infection, had been settling into her routine.
But her mum Jane Parker said it was five weeks after the birth that her daughter had called her, only minutes later to have collapsed while on the phone.
The 62-year-old said: "I called Samantha in the morning, while she was in the shopping centre with Betty, looking for what I now know was my Mother's Day present.
"She was saying that the wheel of her buggy was stuck and then she couldn't find her parking ticket."
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It was shortly after Samantha arrived home that it became clear something was very wrong.
Jane said: "I was still on the phone to her saying we would come over later to fix the buggy and then suddenly she went all funny, speaking gibberish, and then it went silent.
"I was calling and calling her and she said 'I think I've fainted' but then she went again."
Jane shouted her daughter's name and also called for an ambulance.
Everything changed that day. It broke my heart
The desperate mum also tried to contact Paul, Susanne's husband – who at the time was at the cinema with their two other kids.
Samantha was rushed to hospital and scans revealed she had suffered a blood clot in her lungs and heart.
Doctors tried to save her, but there was nothing they could do and Samantha died just 24 hours after the last conversation with her mum.
Jane said: "It was devastating.
"Everything changed that day. It broke my heart."
Samantha and Paul found out they had been expecting in early 2019 and Samantha had been struggled with pelvic girdle pain.
Mum Jane said: "She had girdle pain with her other pregnancies but with this one, it kicked in straight away and she found it really difficult to get about.
"The pain became so bad, she ended up staying home most of the time."
What is a pulmonary embolism and what are the signs?
Professor Beverley Hunt, one of the leading experts on thrombosis and acquired bleeding disorders, said:”Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot, usually from the veins of the legs, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), breaks off and travels to the lungs.”
What are the signs of PE?
– Feeling very unwell or collapsing
– Sudden unexplained difficulty in breathing
– Tightness in the chest or chest pain
– Coughing up blood
You should seek help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
What are the signs of DVT?
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis:
– Pain, swelling and tenderness in one leg, usually at the back of your lower leg (calf). The pain may be worse when you walk
– A heavy ache or warm skin in the affected area
– Red skin, particularly at the back of your leg below the knee
Call your GP, midwife or 111 immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
In the event of an emergency, call 999.
Jane, who lives in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, is now hoping her daughter's experience can help educate other women.
"If Samantha had been more aware of the risks, she might still be here today.
"I want her children to know that we did everything we could to help make a difference.
"I want them to know that her life wasn't wasted."
She added that her daughter had experienced pain with other pregnancies, but that this one had been different.
"It kicked in straight away and she found it really difficult to get about.
"The pain became so bad, she ended up staying home most of the time."
KNOW THE RISKS
The pain went away after Betty arrived – but Jane said that her immobility during pregnancy may have been a factor.
Samantha left behind Evelyn, now 12, Stanley, now seven, and Betty, who is now two-years-old.
Jane hopes to keep the memory of her daughter alive for her children and is also raising awareness of blood clots and the charity Thrombosis UK.
She said: "Nowadays, you don't have the same midwife the whole time, you have lots of different ones, so they might not know everything that is happening.
"Samantha not being able to move around for nine months, not doing very much, was a sign that could have been highlighted.
"If she had understood that she would be more at risk of a blood clot, I am sure it would have made a difference.
She was such a fun, happy-go-lucky person who always put us and the kids first
"From the moment a woman is pregnant to the end, we should be constantly talking about these things and making sure women know about them and are aware of them – because it could save a life."
Paul said he hopes Samantha's story will help other women.
He said his life changed when Samantha died, adding that it breaks his heart that Betty will never get to know her mother.
"Sam was a one-of-a-kind. She was such a fun, happy-go-lucky person who always put us and the kids first.
"Family meant everything to her.
"We can't change what happened but if we can make people aware of it or know what to look for and save one person, then it will help save lives," he said.
Jane Dickson, chief of nursing and midwifery at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I extend my heartfelt condolences to Samantha’s family. Raising awareness of the risks of pulmonary embolism is an important part of care during pregnancy.
"At the Trust, we provide detailed information leaflets for patients, document risk assessments in their notes and where appropriate, share video guidance for administering medication after they leave our care.”
Professor Beverley Hunt, one of the leading experts on thrombosis and acquired bleeding disorder, said that more work needs to be done to highlight the risks of blood clots in pregnant women or women who have just given birth.
She added: "Pregnant women are at increased risk of PE, and although rare, is a leading cause of death in pregnancy and postpartum
"This is because during pregnancy, a woman's blood gets more sticky, possibly this happens to lessen blood loss during delivery. This stickiness continues after delivery and settles by about six weeks after giving birth.
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"Pregnant women also experience less blood flow in the leg veins because the blood vessels around the pelvis are pressed upon by the growing uterus and the veins enlarge during pregnancy. We also know immobility is a major risk factor for clots”
“If prevention with small doses of heparin are used in women at high risk then the risk of blood clots can be reduced, so education and accurate assessment of risk can result in substantial benefits.£
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