This story was submitted by Christie's sister, Lisa. It hits so close to home and reminds me of why I started "What the HELLP?" You can join the promise walk for Christie here.
"On Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at 4:30 p.m., Christie Polverelli came home from work to her loving family: her 7-year-old daughter Alexis; her partner, Chris Lehoisky; and their two sons, 3-year-old Carter and 2-year-old Lukas. Christie was 27 weeks pregnant with their baby girl.
It was very noticeable that Christie’s fingers, ankles, legs and face were bloated. In spite of this, she played with her three children, chasing them around and laughing. Christie spent special time with her children every day; her children were her life.
At 5 p.m., Christie experienced severe pain on her right side and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
When Christie arrived at the hospital she was first taken to the emergency room. Through blood tests, vital signs and physical signs, it was clear that Christie and her baby were in critical condition. The attending OBGYN knew that the baby had to be immediately taken.
Christie was rushed to the operating room for an emergency cesarean section and her baby, Elle (ell-ee), was born a short time later. At a mere 1 pound, 12 ounces, Elle was rushed by helicopter to a specialty medical center.
When the doctor removed baby Elle, he found a circumstance he had not dealt with in 25 years. Christie’s belly was full of dark red blood and there was no sign of where the blood was coming from.
The hospital’s best surgeons were called in with emergency status and they had to cut Christie open all the way to the chest bone in order to figure out where the blood was coming from. They found out that Christie’s liver had ruptured and the doctors were now faced with stopping the bleeding.
Christie had HELLP syndrome.
Christie was bleeding internally and her blood would not clot. With the assistance of a liver specialist and constant blood transfusions, the doctors were able to slow the bleeding down by packing the liver with gauze. Christie was in critical condition and was placed into ICU. Christie was very ill. We were in total shock.
At about 2:30 a.m., we were able to see Christie. She was twice her normal size and hooked up to multiple machines; it seemed as if tubes were everywhere. She was still receiving blood transfusions; she was oozing blood from her eyes, mouth, nose and ears. Christie woke briefly, rubbed our fingers and then tried to call out to her oldest child Alexis.
At 7:30 a.m., we were told that Christie needed to be transferred to another, specialty medical center – the same one that Elle was taken to. The weather did not cooperate, so Christie could not be flown by helicopter (a 20-minute ride); she had to be taken by ambulance, an hour drive away. We were told that Christie may not survive the ride.
Christie arrived at the medical center shortly after 10 a.m. and was taken immediately into exploratory surgery. She was still bleeding and they re-packed her liver. Christie was then transferred to ICU.
A short time later, the doctors showed up and told us that Christie was now bleeding from the stomach as well, and they needed to go in and try to stop the bleeding. They needed permission to do this. We no more than said “YES. PLEASE SAVE OUR BABY” when another doctor showed up to tell us that her lung had collapsed.
We asked to see Christie before she was taken to surgery. On the way to see her, we were rushed in because she was now in full cardiac arrest. A team of nurses were working feverishly; a young man was on top of Christie, performing CPR. We were screaming and crying, yelling for Christie to not go. They got a heartbeat. She came back.
As they took Christie to the operating room, we cried and said encouraging things to her. We could not believe this was happening!
A short time later, the doctor came and told us that Christie went into a brief cardiac arrest on her way to the operating room; she was revived, but she was now back into full cardiac arrest. Christie’s eyes had rolled up into her head and he would have to let her go if the CPR was not successful. Christie passed away on February 27, 2013, at 2:14 p.m., from HELLP syndrome and cardiac arrest.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., we were able to go in and view our lovely Christie at rest. This is the only way to explain how we felt: crushed, horrified, shocked, and in disbelief. These feelings remain to this day.
A fantastic person who gave everything for her family had passed away. Four precious children lost their beautiful and loving mommy. Her partner, Chris, lost his loved one. Her friends lost a special person that took the time to care and to listen. We lost a wonderful daughter, sister, mother and friend. Those who did not know her were sorrowed by her story.
Christie’s children spend as much time as possible together. Elle is a miracle baby and is doing well.
It was extremely painful to write this memory. Our families hope that we can help to spread awareness and to save the lives of mothers and babies. We are also comforted to know that Christie’s spirit lives on. Bless the Preeclampsia Foundation. We believe in you!"
-Written by the Polverelli family. Story originally published here.
This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used in place of a qualified health provider. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote awareness of HELLP Syndrome in pregnant and postpartum women. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. If you think you are suffering from HELLP please contact your healthcare provider. If you have an emergency dial 911.