With three boys under age 5, Kayla and Devin Griggs have plenty of things they expect to worry about: skinned knees, saving for college, wondering if they’ll ever get a minute of quiet.
They never expected to add a life-and-death health crisis to that list, but after a frightening experience, they’re thanking Regional One Health’s Roberto Levi-D’Ancona, MD, FACOG for the chance to settle into life as a family of five.
Kayla and Devin welcomed baby Tate last October, thrilled to bring a healthy little boy home to Arkansas to join big brothers Emery, 4, and Sullivan, 2.
However, just two weeks after a routine C-section, Kayla experienced heavy bleeding and had to have a blood transfusion and emergency D&C. The bleeding stopped, and she returned home.
But two days after Thanksgiving, “It happened again,” she said. “I lost a lot of blood, and I lost consciousness. I ended up being rushed to the hospital by ambulance.”
Kayla had suffered a delayed post-partum hemorrhage. Her blood loss was so severe paramedics immediately decided she needed to go to Regional One Health, about 20 minutes away. “We’re thankful we live so close,” she said. “The hospital where I gave birth is 40 minutes away, and the ambulance driver said I wouldn’t have made it.”
The decision proved even more fortuitous when Kayla and Devin met Dr. Levi. With several decades in the OB/GYN field and a Fellowship in Advanced Gynecology and Critical Care, he has the unique training and experience to diagnose and treat complicated issues.
Dr. Levi remembers vividly when Kayla arrived: “She was very pale. I knew she was anemic just by looking at her. Her blood levels were very low, so we did a transfusion right away.”
He also made eye contact with Devin: “His face to me said, ‘I’m going to lose my wife.’”
Dr. Levi quickly got to work, performing an ultrasound that showed a possible retained placenta. But because Dr. Levi knew Kayla had a D&C, he was skeptical: “I understood right away something was wrong. The uterus was a strange consistency – I could tell immediately it was not normal,” he said.
“My uterus had basically died,” Kayla would later learn. “There were holes in my uterus, and I was bleeding into my abdomen.”
She had regained consciousness after getting fluids, so she was able to talk with Dr. Levi. As a biomedical engineer, Kayla is no stranger to the medical field, and she knew her situation was precarious: “I knew it was bad, obviously, and I knew a hysterectomy was a possibility. Dr. Levi was very calm and reassuring. He did let me know it was a serious situation and what to expect, but he told me the truth without making it impossible to process.”
Ultimately, Dr. Levi determined an emergency hysterectomy was necessary. “It was a very complicated surgery because the uterus was attached to other organs by scar tissue, and I had to have eight units of blood and plasma – but he did a great job,” Kayla said.
It went so well, in fact, that Kayla was back home in two and a half days.
It’s an example of the specialized OB/GYN services Regional One Health offers women, and of the care doctors take to show compassion for patients in crisis.
Dr. Levi understands how terrifying such a situation is for a young couple like Kayla and Devin, who are in their early 30s and just starting the journey of raising their children. He takes a calm approach, explaining everything in detail and counseling patients at each step on risks, outcomes, etc. He listens to their questions and answers thoroughly before proceeding.
It’s a philosophy he shares with his medical students, and one he says permeates throughout Regional One Health: “This is always a team effort,” Dr. Levi said. “It’s never just one person.”
Kayla said that was true in her experience. “Everybody was great. The nursing staff was great. They all checked in on me, Dr. Levi came in to check on me, the residents who came around did a great job monitoring the pain. We were really pleased with how attentive everybody was.”
Now, life is getting back to normal. Kayla and Devin moved into a new home and are busy getting settled, and Kayla is preparing to return to work in February after maternity leave. And, of course, they’re chasing after their little boys, eager to watch them grow up together.
Kayla said she’ll always be grateful for Regional One Health’s role in that happy outcome – and that’s a feeling her physician shares wholeheartedly.
“When I saw her for her post-op visit, they kept saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, you saved her life,’” Dr. Levi said, and for his part, he was thrilled to see a healthy, energetic young mom and her relieved husband seated in front of him.
“She was a totally different person, and that was wonderful to see.”