Tiffany Trevers, San Jose Promise Walk Coordinator
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I became pregnant with our first child at age 32 as a healthy person with no chronic conditions, I was considered low-risk. My pregnancy progressed normally through the first trimester. I began to swell around 22 weeks but thought little of it, that it was part of normal weight gain. As each week passed the swelling increased and my blood pressure, which has run low to normal all my life, began to creep up. At 27 weeks I was formally diagnosed with preeclampsia, and I delivered my son weighing just two pounds at 28 weeks gestation. Rather than improving after delivery, my condition worsened post-partum, as I developed Class I HELLP Syndrome and spent several days in ICU with severe liver issues before stabilizing.
My son spent 76 days in the NICU, and as is common with preemies born that early, spent time on the ventilator, had numerous blood transfusions, had surgery on a heart ligament, and had severe pneumonia. Though his prematurity was a rough road with effects that lasted long after leaving the hospital, today he is a healthy, bright, loving 6 year old. And after years of contemplation, we decided to risk another pregnancy in 2010, that fortunately was completely preeclampsia and HELLP-free.
How aware were you about preeclampsia before/during your pregnancy?
I had heard the term preeclampsia during pregnancy but never thought of myself as a candidate, because I had always had low blood pressure. The fact that my cousin lost her first child at 24 weeks because of preeclampsia, and my own grandmother suffered preeclampsia (then called toxemia) with all of her pregnancies didn't even register with me at the time, though now I often question whether there is some sort of genetic predisposition in our family even though I have tested negative for all of the disorders associated with preeclampsia.
What volunteer position(s) have you held?
I organized the first Promise Walk for Preeclampsia in the Northern California region that was held in May 2011 in San Jose. Over 250 people attended and because of everyone's efforts, we raised over $31,000 for the Preeclampsia Foundation! Though it was a ton of work, it was an incredibly gratifying and educational experience.
Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation?
The Preeclampsia Foundation was such a supportive environment for me after my experience in 2005 and again as I went through a high risk pregnancy in 2010. I got so much from the Foundation and from the many wonderful volunteers that I felt it only right to try and give back something. Many of us preeclampsia survivors want to put our experiences behind us and forget this painful chapter in our lives. And yet I remember meeting a father earlier this year as we planned our local Promise Walk whose wife died from preeclampsia roughly the same time I had it, leaving behind a baby she never knew. We survivors can move on and continue with our lives, but that mother and thousands like her worldwide, cannot. We survivors must fight for a cure on behalf of these women and babies taken from us too soon who cannot fight.
What has been your most gratifying moment as a Foundation volunteer?
That is a tough one. There have been so many gratifying moments where I have felt the impact of volunteerism and our efforts. On Promise Walk day seeing everyone gathered... meeting so wonderful people from the blood centers who partnered with us at the San Jose walk to talk about the connection between preeclampsia and blood donation. Seeing what Rosalinda (my co-chair) and I started grow and take off with so many individuals and teams working to spread awareness about the Preeclampsia Foundation and to raise funds to find a cure and treatment for preeclampsia.