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BRG Survivor Series: Local woman spreads awareness after life-threatening pulmonary embolism

3 months 1 week 1 day ago Monday, February 19 2024 Feb 19, 2024 February 19, 2024 10:29 AM February 19, 2024 in BRG Survivor Series
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Just hours after the birth of her youngest son, Jessica Phillips noticed some discomfort in her calf.

“They did a Doppler and did look for superficial clotting, and they did see superficial clotting, but they did not see a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). They said it was okay for me to go home. You know, looking back, there was no discussion about pulmonary embolism or anything. The words were, 'You're good to go. You can go home and take care of those babies,'” Jessica said. 

“As the week progressed, I was getting a little more short of breath. I didn't really say much about it. I just thought it was attributed to exhaustion and motherhood and I was busy.  So we didn't worry too much about it, except I just kind of watched my leg and there was no 'Call us if anything changed,' so I thought it was safe,” she added.

Nine days later, she knew something was wrong and asked her husband Bart to get help.

 “About 5:45 in the morning, yeah, she woke me up. I turned the light on and I looked over and she was just pale, clammy skin. Her lips were blue and I knew immediately that she was not getting oxygen,” Bart said.

Cat scans revealed Jessica had a pulmonary embolism in both lungs. Additionally, two of the veins in her left leg were completely clotted, the same area that was causing her discomfort after delivery.

“We were looking at everything, the vital signs. All of a sudden, her blood pressure started to drop. And he looks at me and says, 'I think she's having a pulmonary crash.' He goes, 'I've got to use a silver bullet. Now. We've got to give her the tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) and let's pray for the best.' They escorted me out of the ICU at that point. And I glanced at her blood pressure was 60 over 40 and dropping as I was leaving the room. So, yeah, I left the room thinking that she wasn't going to make it,” Bart said.

For the next six hours the Phillips family waited outside of the intensive care unit, praying for their loved one as she fought for her life.

Sure enough that silver bullet saved Jessica’s life. She says it was the faith that she and those around her had that kept her fighting so hard.

“There were moments where it was just me, Carla, and the Lord just there, because they had done everything they could with the medicine. She just stayed there and held my hand, never left. That's what gave me, you know, some hope. I made up a little acronym because my brain was really tired. So it's Ainsley, my children's names Annslee, Barton, Scarlett and Stone. But the acronym is ABS because it includes Bart. So it's Annslee, Barton, Bart, Scarlett, Stone. It's a little acronym. I would just say 'abss' in my head over and over and it's really sweet that I have a bracelet from the Baton Rouge General with 'abss' on it. It's really special to me,” Jessica said.

“I felt like she was getting the best care she possibly could get. And then that trickled into the nurses. Carla was holding her hand. It was a connection. I think it was more than just a physical touching, the connection. It truly was a spiritual connection that everyone who walked in that room was lifting her up and yeah, pulling for us. So from an experience standpoint, we never felt alone," Bart said.

“I get emotional talking about that place because of what they did and how they've treated me since then, like, you know, a family. And I feel very blessed that we were there," Jessica said.

Blood clots can happen to anyone and can cause a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal complication. Symptoms of a blood clot in the leg or arm (DVT) include swelling, pain, redness or skin that’s warm to the touch. Symptoms of a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) include difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing and a faster than normal or irregular heartbeat. Learn more at stoptheclot.org.

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