FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne family celebrated its daughter’s first birthday Saturday. While it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, it’s an event this family never thought they’d have.
Pink decorations and a princess theme – it may be expected for a little girl’s first birthday, but Saturday’s party was about more than the bows and tiaras.
“I went to the doctors a year ago yesterday for my 35 week check-up. They tested my blood pressure and it was very high. They sent me to the emergency room,” Kara Neal said.
Kara doesn’t remember much after that. After two days in the hospital, she had an amniotic fluid embolism. Only 1 in 75,000 women has the condition, and many don’t survive. It happens when amniotic fluid gets into the mother’s blood stream.
“Her water broke. The baby’s heart rate started dropping, and my sister went into cardiac arrest,” Kara’s sister, Angie Arambula, said.
That’s when doctors rushed Kara into the operating room for an emergency cesarean section.
“They called code blue. My sister died three times. My niece was coded too. It just all happened so fast. To hear code blue on the hospital speakers, it just doesn’t seem real that it happens with all the medical technology that we have,” Arambula said.
Kara spent the next two days on life support and had nearly 20 blood transfusions.
“The doctors told us she had a 5 percent chance of survival,” Arambula said.
Kara beat the odds and left the hospital ten days later with her baby girl.
“Here we are celebrating her first birthday. We’re excited that we’re here celebrating all this, and I didn’t think this would happen.” Arambula said.
A year later, both Kara and her daughter are doing well.
“They’re healthy for the most part. My sister has a lot of memory issues and headaches and some neurological issues, but we can deal with that versus what it could have been. We’re just thankful to be here,” Arambula said.
Now, the family hopes their celebration will also raise awareness for the rare condition.
“It’s not been easy to go through for my family or anybody’s family who has been through this. It’s so rare. We didn’t know what it was when it happened. I hear of it and I see of it more and more. It’s just something that we really need to work to raise awareness for,” Kara’s sister-in-law, Victoria Deleon, said.
They plan to start a walk and encourage other women to join the support groups on Facebook. The family is also asking other women with the condition to donate their medical records to an ongoing study by Baylor University.