Hunter hero: Michelle Murray, blood donor advocate

CLOSE: Michelle Murray with Lennox and Mayah.  Picture: Brock Perks
CLOSE: Michelle Murray with Lennox and Mayah. Picture: Brock Perks

YOUNG mum Michelle Murray faced death much too early when she ‘‘fell through the cracks’’ after developing an undetected and potentially fatal condition during pregnancy.

The 24-year-old from Belmont was pregnant with her third baby when she went into labour and prepared for a caesarean.

Unbeknownst to Michelle, she had been suffering from a condition called placenta increta throughout her term.

Placenta increta is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes the placenta to invade the uterine wall. The placental complication arises when the placenta embeds itself too deeply into the uterine wall and penetrates the myometrium – the middle layer of the wall.

The terrifying ordeal began with her water breaking while at home in Belmont. Michelle rushed to the toilet to find she was losing blood as well as amniotic fluid. 

She and her partner, Aarron, set off for John Hunter Hospital immediately. Upon arrival, Michelle went into theatre for her planned c-section but following the incision, she said the room went very quiet.

The doctor explained that her baby was healthy but that she was suffering from placenta praevia – a severely low-lying placenta. This meant Michelle’s doctor would be required to make the incision through the placenta with the assistance of a surgeon.

Michelle’s blood pressure was plummeting and she began to vomit.

‘‘I felt completely out of control of my mind and body,’’ she said.

“My next memory is hearing bub cry and then my baby boy and Aarron were taken out of theatre. Lennox James Morris was born a tiny 2.9kilograms – a lot smaller than his siblings had been at birth.’’

But Michelle was not clear of danger yet. She recalls screaming in pain as she was wheeled back into theatre and woke sometime later with many tubes coming out of her mouth, unaware of what had happened. She had been resuscitated several times and found doctors had no other choice than to perform a hysterectomy to cease the bleeding in her uterus.

‘‘A midwife told me how lucky I was to be alive and that she couldn’t believe I made it to full term,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s when the shock really set in, and I guess also anger. All I kept thinking was, how did they not pick this up when I was pregnant? 

‘‘I had spent three weeks of my third trimester in Fiji – if I had started bleeding or gone into labour there, I wouldn’t be here. 

‘‘They also told me that if I hadn’t been in a large hospital there is no way I would have made it.’’

Michelle received five days’ worth of transfusions post-childbirth, which is the equivalent of 56 blood donations. According to her doctor, those donations saved her life.

Following her brush with death, Michelle embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of placenta increta and the need for blood donations for women and babies during labour.

She is running a blood drive, which began at the Newcastle Donor Centre at the beginning of October.  It will run until Christmas time and Michelle hopes the drive will encourage awareness and blood donations Australia-wide.

‘‘When we had our opening day of the drive, the majority of the people we had donating were first-time donors and they all couldn’t believe they had never done it before,’’ she said.

‘‘It only takes a short time, it’s so easy to do and it might save someone’s life.’’

Both Michelle and her son, Lennox, are now healthy following the ordeal.

‘‘Lennox is now a cheeky 7-month-old who is crawling, standing and cruising round the furniture.  He also said his first word on Mother’s Day, which was ‘Dad’! The little bugger,’’ Michelle said.

To donate to Michelle’s blood drive, visit your nearest Red Cross and inform the donor team you’d like to allocate the donation to the ‘‘Lenny’s Heroes Red Group’’.

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