The Preeclampsia Foundation has already made a significant investment into health literacy research in 2009 and 2010, funding and working closely with top researchers and opinion leaders at Northwestern University in Chicago to develop an evidence-based patient education tool that will work with a broad range of patient populations today. That research study has been concluded and is ready to be tested on a wider audience. Research has shown that low health literacy is not necessarily correlated to low socio-economic conditions and that across many health conditions, patients may not have the resources to read or understand in-depth materials, and as a result are not adequately informed.
In addition, there are many education opportunities when pregnant women interact with a variety of care providers - childbirth educators, doulas, midwives, nurse-midwives and the traditional physicians and nurses they encounter in clinics, hospitals and medical offices. Each of those ...
Volunteer of the Month Spotlight - May 2011
Heather Curtis, Community Forum Director
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I had hypertensive complications and delivered at 37 weeks with all three of my children. I've been very luck that my personal experience with the disease has been mild. I spent one week on hospital bed rest before being induced with my first; I was induced as soon as I was diagnostic with my second; and I was on "house rest" and labetalol from 35 weeks with my third. My highest blood pressures were in the 180s/100s, but I was lucky that those readings were only spikes, and for the most part I stayed in the 140s/90s range. My firstborn spent four days in the NICU because of high MgS04 levels, but my other two babies roomed in with me. They were all small - 5lbs 8oz; 6lbs, 14oz; and 5lbs, 12oz - but today they are all healthy.
How aware were you about pre-e before/during your pregnancy?
I had zero awareness ...
Upon being diagnosed with any medical condition, it is human nature to ponder, "Did anyone in our family have that?"
This is especially the case when diagnosed with preeclampsia - what our mothers' and grandmothers' generations called "toxemia."
When I was diagnosed with preeclampsia during the 35th week of my first pregnancy, I was mystified and kept thinking: What on Earth is this? I am 27. I run. I eat well. My blood pressure is always a perfect 120/80.
But I have to say before any of these questions surfaced, I looked to my mother and asked, "Mama, did you have that?" She looked at me with tears in her eyes and shook her head no, unable to give me the normal guidance and comfort that mothers so naturally bestow.
One woman that could provide some guidance was my mother-in-law, Kathy Hutchison, who immediately called me upon hearing my diagnosis, being a two-time survivor herself. What were the odds that she too had had ...
Volunteer of the Month Spotlight - April 2011
Autumn Spear, Promise Walk Beat Editor
1. What was your experience with preeclampsia?
At 21 weeks into my first pregnancy with our daughter Sydney, I developed severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome and had no idea what was happening. I spent a week in the hospital trying to sort out what was happening at such an early stage in my pregnancy when preeclampsia is not typically seen. When my symptoms worsened, I was transferred to a high risk hospital and forced to deliver our stillborn daughter. It was a horrible and frightening experience. With the help of a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, we were able to deliver a healthy baby boy a year later though I still developed preeclampsia again at 36 weeks.
2. How ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on February 28, 2011 by Administrator
(1) What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I was a young, first time mother with my son who was due June 20, 2008. My pregnancy was rather boring until around 22 weeks. I began having these horrible headaches and saw glitter in the sky. I thought these were regular pregnancy symptoms and thought nothing of it. I figured I could wait for my next doctor’s appointment in 2½ weeks. The headaches got worse and I began swelling in my hands, feet, and face. By 23 weeks, I had already gained 35 lbs. At 24 weeks and 3 days, my mother decided to take my blood pressure. It was through the roof and we immediately called my doctor. She sent me to L&D where I was monitored overnight. The next morning, my doctor said I had hypertension and sent me home on strict bed rest. Three days later, I was worse and went back to the hospital. They told me I may have severe preeclampsia ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on February 03, 2011 by Administrator
A new Community Forum section called "Writing Heals" encourages survivors to share original poems, songs, short stories and quotes dedicated to their unique experiences. The goal of the forum is to provide a space to promote healing through shared expression. On a quarterly basis, we will feature a piece in our newsletter along with a brief interview with the author.
Writing has been proven to yield measurable improvements in psychological and physical health. When we write, we must slow down our thought processes and organize our thoughts. This process promotes self-awareness and understanding. As we write about a stressful event or trauma like a preeclamptic pregnancy, it helps us understand the event as well as how and why we may have felt certain emotions, an important part of the grief journey. Survivors have reported feeling relieved and beginning to heal through writing. If you already have a ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on January 31, 2011 by Administrator
Preeclampsia survivors make a difference every day. For some, that difference is finishing a marathon; for others, it's an opportunity to use special talents to develop a new awareness project.
Our new Southwest Regional Coordinator Nicole Purnell has volunteered for many years to raise awareness and funds as a tribute to her son who did not survive a severe case of preeclampsia. These efforts have grown into a Meet-and-Greet event on February 26 in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, which will offer a point-of-entry for organizing Foundation supporters to brainstorm on future local events. For more information on this gathering, please contact Nicole directly.
For the Warner family, it was the loss of their 25 year old daughter Shelly to postpartum HELLP syndrome that inspires their annual work. They are passionate supporters who, along with their extended family and friends, host an annual Taco-and-Trivia Night in Iowa to be held on February 26, with all proceeds ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on January 11, 2011 by Administrator
Being up at 4 in the morning is no easy feat. But running 13.1 miles at 4 am? Anyone who has ever run a half or full marathon will tell you straight away that they are completely insane.
Like many preeclampsia survivors, member Laura Dale's harrowing experience with preeclampsia left her with the desire to make a change, to reaffirm her presence in the universe. Laura and her husband, Will, made the decision to run the annual Walt Disney World half-marathon. During the long process of training, she heard the story of Joan Donnelly, a loving wife and mother of three from Orlando, Fla., who lost her life to post-partum eclampsia late last year. Touched by the overwhelming, devastating sense of loss felt by her family and friends, Laura decided to run in Joan's honor.
Laura finished the half-marathon in 3 hours, 20 minutes and 43 ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on January 02, 2011 by Administrator
Volunteer Profile- January 2011
Nicole Purnell, Southwest Regional Coordinator
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
My pregnancy seemed rather normal and uneventful to me until I reached 33 weeks. My blood pressure had been creeping upward, but I wasn't concerned about it. I had a terrible cold and was taking meds that raised my blood pressure even further and that was when I was put on bedrest. At 34+5 weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling right. My husband took me to L&D just to be safe. Or so we thought. Once we got there and were checked in, the nurses started hooking me up to all the monitors. The monitors were silent and they were not able to find a heartbeat. When the epidural was place, I crashed. I remember my OB slapping me on the ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on December 12, 2010 by Administrator
Volunteer Profile - December 2010
Becky Sloan, National Promise Walk for Preeclampsia Director
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I began experiencing face and body swelling and headaches at 22 weeks. These symptoms, along with extreme weight gain, bouts of high blood pressure, and lower fetal movement, continued until 31 weeks. My doctor was never concerned with my symptoms and told me that ‘if I didn’t stop gaining weight, I would gain 70 lbs. before the pregnancy was over.’ I didn’t make it out of the office before I burst into tears. I felt awful, like no one cared, and I still had no idea what preeclampsia was because the signs and symptoms were never mentioned to me. I was never diagnosed with anything more than ‘being a first time worried mom,’ and at 31 weeks, 6 days I went into code blue eclamptic seizures. I actually had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on November 04, 2010 by Administrator
Volunteer Profile: Amanda Meier, Baby Fair Coordinator
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I was having a normal first pregnancy when I started feeling pressure on my upper right side at around 28 weeks. It wasn't very painful at the time and would come and go. I thought it was related to all the over-eating I was doing! At some point in my 30th week, the pressure became a daily occurrence. I asked my midwife about it and she felt it was likely heartburn. I had never had heartburn in my life, so I had no point of reference. My blood pressure at the time was 138/80 and there were trace amounts of protein in my urine dip. Two days later, the pressure turned to pain and I was unable to eat or drink anything. I was admitted to Labor and Delivery with questionable labs results. The next day, a diagnosis of HELLP Syndrome was confirmed and I was transferred by helicopter to a hospital with a neonatal intensive ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on November 02, 2010 by Administrator
This time of year brings so many warm memories of Autumn's past, but one Fall season in particular brings bitter-sweet memories.
This time three years ago, I was nearing the middle of my third trimester and settling into our new home. I noticed some severe swelling and was experiencing daily headaches. I brought it to the attention of my doctors however they dismissed it as regular pregnancy symptoms.
The day after Halloween I went to my 35 week OB appointment. Everything seemed to be a whirl-wind from the moment I stepped into his office until I was rushed to the OB Triage area of the hospital with complications due to preeclampsia. I was surrounded by a team of eight doctors as they informed me that they needed to get my baby out or both our lives would be in jeopardy.
Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the scariest time in my family's life.
After 13 hours of hard labor our son Brennan was born five weeks ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on October 31, 2010 by Administrator
On October 18, the Iowa Section of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses hosted Preeclampsia: A Team Approach to help provide healthcare providers with a greater understanding of the disease. More than 70 participants enjoyed the viewing of the 2009 Chairman's Hope Award for Outstanding Service video highlighting John and Brenda Warner, opening comments by Sue Gehlsen , Executive Director of Women's Services at Iowa Health, presentations by Joseph Hwang, MD, FACOG and George Lederhaas, MD on hypertension in pregnancy and ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on October 23, 2010 by Administrator
The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today that Ms. Jill Siegel of Chicago, IL is the 2010 recipient of its annual Hope Award for Volunteer of the Year. This prestigious award will be presented to Ms. Siegel at its annual benefit gala, Saving Grace – A Night of Hope Around the World, on Saturday, November 6, at the Olympic Fairmont Hotel in Seattle, Washington. The award recognizes an individual who epitomizes the true spirit of volunteerism and has made significant contributions to the Foundation.
Eleni Tsigas, Executive Director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, said, “It’s hard to identify Jill’s most significant contribution as she has been instrumental in so many areas. In 2009, she served as our Saving Grace chair, organizing, motivating and arranging everything for our annual fundraising gala and throughout 2010 has done an overwhelming ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on September 23, 2009 by Administrator
Minneapolis, MN – September 24, 2009 – The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today that Ms. Kara Boeldt is the 2009 recipient of its annual Hope Award for Volunteer of the Year. This prestigious award will be presented to Ms. Boeldt at its annual benefit gala, Saving Grace – A Night of Hope, on Saturday, October 24, at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The award recognizes an individual who epitomizes the true spirit of volunteerism and has made significant contributions to the Foundation.
Eleni Tsigas, Executive Director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, said, “It’s hard to identify Kara’s most significant contribution as she has been instrumental in so many areas. This past year she served as our National Walk Coordinator, organizing, motivating and supporting the work of two dozen local walk coordinators across the country. This is our largest awareness event of the year.”
Boeldt also has served for several years as a moderator ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on October 04, 2008 by Administrator
Preeclampsia will feature prominently in a new feature film set to go into production in March of 2009. How did this come to be? Is the writer a female preeclampsia survivor? Did the director lose a loved one to the disease?
Neither case is true.
What is true is that the writers were in search of an illness that would occur during pregnancy. Their research led them to learn about preeclampsia and the Preeclampsia Foundation. At the time the writers, Craig Weintraub, Brian Steinbach, and Joey O’Bryan, had never heard of it, which was fine with them since they did not want to incorporate something that was really well known. That was in 2005, around the time of the first Saving Grace gala in Minneapolis. Weintraub, the film’s Director, and his partners were still writing the story at the time, so they attended the event to learn more from survivors and medical practitioners. Once they learned, as Weintraub puts it, “How could you not want to become more ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on December 03, 2007 by Administrator
I found the Preeclampsia Foundation website in January 2003 when I was pregnant with my second child – and terrified of what might happen. That second trimester panic so many of our members know all too well.
I’ve been a volunteer ever since. Anne Garrett was my savior, and by the time my daughter Camille was born, I was a devotee for life. I thought Anne’s vision and leadership were amazing, and I wanted to help her and the Preeclampsia Foundation in any way I could. I’d have washed her windows if she’d asked me.
When I had severe preeclampsia during my first pregnancy in 1998, there was no one there. No one to help me pick up and keep going after that freight train hit. But the Preeclampsia Foundation is that ‘someone’, or rather many ‘someones’, dedicated to raising awareness and funding research. Most of all, the Preeclampsia Foundation is here providing support for women and families who need someone to turn to after preeclampsia ...
Hundreds of volunteers have contributed tens of thousands of hours to fulfill our calling as an organization. Our online forum has emerged as the world’s best peer-to-peer source of preeclampsia information and support. Over 4,000 members have contributed to over 150,000 posts since its inception 3 years ago. Over 50 moderators and administrators have made that possible, all as volunteers. Dozens of local fundraisers such as poker parties, yard sales, golf tournaments, fishing tournaments, raffles and silent auctions – have been driven by volunteers, raising over $20,000 dollars. In two years, our annual walk-a-thon has been staged in 22 communities, raising $100,000 and reaching scores of people who had never heard of preeclampsia!
No matter how large we become or how quickly we reach our goal to be directed by a professional staff, volunteers will always be a critical component of our success. Your Board of Directors has developed 8 objectives for the next ...