Grateful mum Michelle Murray launches blood drive for Red Cross

LIFE SAVED: Michelle Murray with her children Bodie, 5, Lennox, 9 months, and Mayah, 2. She lost litres of blood while giving birth. Picture: Dean Osland
LIFE SAVED: Michelle Murray with her children Bodie, 5, Lennox, 9 months, and Mayah, 2. She lost litres of blood while giving birth. Picture: Dean Osland

A BELMONT woman almost died at John Hunter Hospital from an undetected pregnancy issue, prompting the health authority to introduce a new checklist for potential complications in mums-to-be.

Throughout her third pregnancy, Michelle Murray was never told she could have placenta accreta.

However, she had undergone two caesarean sections within the past four years, increasing her risk of having the condition.

It occurs when the placenta implants over the site of a previous uterine scar.

The placenta grows into the scar, making it very difficult to separate from the uterus after the baby is delivered.

As a consequence, considerable bleeding may occur - and this happened with Ms Murray.

She lost six litres of blood through a severe form of accreta.

She also had to have an emergency hysterectomy to save her life.

At the age of 24, the fact she can no longer have children is confronting.

Her youngest child, Lennox Morris, now aged nine months, is healthy and wasn't harmed in the birth.

Ms Murray said she was cleared to go to Fiji during her third trimester, so she never thought she had such a high-risk pregnancy.

When her waters broke, she had to wait for 20 hours to have the caesarean.

"If they had picked it up, there would've been a bigger plan and it would've been a more controlled environment, instead of 20 hours to get into surgery," Ms Murray said.

"When they cut me open, they had to wait half an hour for another surgeon.

"I find it amazing I didn't bleed to death.

"I was dazing in and out, and haemorrhaging.

"I lost five to six litres; my whole blood volume."

Ms Murray left hospital after six days but it took her more than a month to get her full mobility back.

"I was diagnosed with post-natal depression but I think it was more to do with the delivery. It was a lot to take in.

"I was also looking after three kids under the age of four," she said.

Service manager of maternity and gynaecology at John Hunter Hospital Carol Azzopardi said they had identified the need for a checklist following Ms Murray's case.

"We understand that the birth of Michelle's third child was a distressing experience, which is why we are so incredibly grateful to have her working so closely with us," she said.

"Her first-hand experience has been valuable and this partnership has already identified the need for a checklist that could help to identify potential complications early in a woman's pregnancy.

"Ideally, potential complications in pregnancy are identified early on but unfortunately, there are some instances where they come to light later in the pregnancy or during the birth."

Ms Azzopardi said that all women wishing to have a baby at John Hunter Hospital first had a booking-in visit to go over their history and plan for the birth.

Ms Murray is now turning her attention to helping others.

She has shared her story to highlight the importance of being a blood donor and is running a blood drive with the Red Cross later this year.

"I found out from the Red Cross how many donors would've been needed when Lennox was born - anywhere between 22 and 56," Ms Murray said.

She also needed transfusions the week after the birth.

"I'd never donated blood before but it's so important.

"I owe my life to donors."

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