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Working to End Preecclampsia and HELLP

In  November 2013 Leigh was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome following a particularly awful day of feeling increasing pain beneath her sternum.  She was admitted to the hospital with dangerously high blood pressure, and severe pain that worsened through the night, as well as increasing difficulty breathing as she had developed pulmonary edema. When the doctor told her that she had preeclampsia at 22w5d, She  began to feel light headed and cried, knowing that with how she physically felt, the likelihood of her making it to 24 weeks was pretty low. 

When she was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome just a few hours later, she had no idea what they were talking about.  Her labs worsened throughout the following day and on November 27th her son, Vincent, was born and passed four hours later.  It was the day before Thanksgiving and her birthday.   

She spent her recovery researching everything she could about HELLP and preeclampsia, and that lead her  to the Preeclampsia Foundation.  Although she learned about the Promise Walk, she was not able to emotionally handle participating in the 2014 walk.

Everything was just too raw. 

Before she even made it to Vincent's due date, she was pregnant again.  Using information she had learned from preeclampsia.org, she knew that she needed to be followed closely.  During her second pregnancy she saw an MFM, an OB, a cardiologist (due to lingering high blood pressure after HELLP and pre-e) and family doctor that each saw her for monthly blood pressure checks.

Her second son, Jackson, was born emergently at 34 weeks via C-section due to the onset of preeclampsia yet again.  Her doctors were not taking any chances that she might develop HELLP a second time. 

In 2016 her final pregnancy ended early at 37 weeks with labile blood pressure, but finally, no preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome.  Leigh spent the following 6 weeks nervous about what might develop, especially as her spinal headache worsened into debilitating pain,  but the whole while her blood pressure remained normal.  Edith was the first baby she was able to bring home from the hospital with her.

Leigh attended her first Promise Walk in May 2015 with her 6 month old son and had tears in her eyes as Vincent's name was announced.  That year she also met three other walk participants who had HELLP and preeclampsia and today they are friends and planning the walk together. This will be her  fourth Promise Walk for Preeclampsia and she is  happy to work with some amazing wonder women!

 This year, the focus of the walk in Philadelphia/South Jersey is community.  Leigh states,  "Although I've done the walk for three years, I've only met a few of the women and families that participate year after year.  We are a small community of strong women all working for the same goal- end preecclampsia and HELLP.  I love that I have gotten to know so many people and to really help bring awareness to this awful condition with such severe outcomes." 

 Leigh's advice to people who are thinking about volunteering is to "Do it!"   There are so many different ways to get involved and to help! The Promise Walk committees really can use any help you can provide and being involved in the PF really has become more like a sisterhood. Leigh's had organized fundraisers that have raised over $10,000 and is one of our strongest volunteer leaders. This is why we are so proud to annouce her as our May Champion of the Month.

 

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