A new mom is fighting for her life after a brain bleed left her in a coma and forced doctors to deliver her newborn via emergency c-section while she was unconscious.
Caitlin Stubbs, a 25-year-old mom from Queensland, Australia, had her world turned upside down when she woke up on July 23, complaining of a headache.
"She said the headache was up and down the back of her neck," Jonathan Welsh, Stubbs’ fiancé, told Australian news outlet 9Honey. "Then she started vomiting and I called the ambulance."
Stubbs’ headache was actually a symptom of a brain hemorrhage or bleed caused by an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), or a tangle of arteries and veins. According to 9Honey, the new mom learned that she had the condition just one year ago, pre-pregnancy, during another brain bleed. Stubbs had reportedly been given a treatment plan for the condition, but when she learned she was pregnant, she was unable to continue on the medication for her AVM.
The "tangle" of arteries and veins in a brain AVM—or any AVM, for that matter—are weakened, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA), which makes them more susceptible to bursting and bleeding. Those who have had brain bleeds from AVMs before have a slightly higher chance for recurrence, per the ASA, and each brain bleed has a 10-15% chance of death and a 20-30% chance of permanent brain damage.
At the time of Stubbs' second brain bleed, she was 32 weeks pregnant. By the time she reached the hospital, she had already fallen into a coma due to the extent of the bleed, and doctors were forced to deliver her baby via emergency cesarean section. Her baby, Quinn, spent the first three weeks of her life in the NICU.
Since then, Stubbs has "had to fight numerous infections in her brain and ongoing bleeds in her brain," Jayne Franke, Stubbs’ aunt, wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. "She needed help to breathe. Thankfully from the amazing care of the medical team at the Royal Brisbane she has been making slow but significant progress."
Welsh told 9Honey that Stubbs has since woken up from her coma, but her memory has suffered as a result of the incident. He said that not only does the new mom not remember getting engaged two months before her illness, but she also hardly remembers that she has a daughter.
"I bring the baby to the hospital every day and sometimes she whispers to me that she wants Quinn, and sometimes she asks whose baby it is," he says.
Despite her progress, Stubbs has a long road to recovery. “She will need extensive rehabilitation plus future surgeries not limited to but including the removal of the AVM from her brain,” wrote Franke in the GoFundMe post. “She will require intensive Physiotherapy, OT and Speech Therapy among other remedial therapies.”
The family has already received over $26,000 out of their $40,000 goal, and all of the proceeds will go to covering the family’s medical bills and helping Welsh raise Quinn as Stubbs heals.
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