Re: Erika Vandiver’s story (LSN, Nov. 16, 2011)

We can learn from these stories.

I contacted the “hamburger disease” (E-Coli) when I was 16 weeks pregnant. A life-threatening side-effect called the haemolytic uremic syndrome(HUS) occurred. The obstetrician told me that the pregnancy had lowered my immune system and that having an abortion was my only hope of survival. Neither my husband or myself were open to such an intervention.

The young parish priest phoned two bishops to confirm to the doctors that one does not “take a life to save a life.” The one Bishop also took time to contact a nephrologist in his city. He told the priest to tell that woman that they cannot say with absolute surety that she is going to die.

After receiving the last rites from our parish priest, the nephrologist spent the night doing a blood exchange before medivacing me to a larger hospital where I could be put on kidney dialysis. One of the first things they did was give me an ultrasound – and the technician told me that because of the gestational stage my baby’s main organs were fine. That was such a relief to hear! He also confirmed my gestational stage of 16 weeks.

The previous obstetrician, probably in an effort to save my life, had tried to convince me that I was 20 weeks gestation and that an ˜early delivery” could be done and it would not be recorded as an abortion. Our use of natural family planning made me able to to feel secure in my calculation of my baby’s age! My 16 week baby would have no real chance of survival.

By time I was put on kidney dialysis that evening I was almost comatose according to the gynecologist. I knew that I had lost the ability to speak above a whisper and that I had other signs of being near death. After 3 days in ICU I went up to the surgical ward from whence I would be taken to the renal ward where, six days out of seven, I would get 6 hours of kidney dialysis. The hospital chaplain had given me a Sacred Heart of Jesus novena to pray. The day after I finished the novena, to everyone’s surprise, my kidney function, that had been non-functional for 5 weeks, completely

That very evening I was eating in the hospital cafeteria and I moved into a nearby apartment so I could go back for blood tests that confirmed my good health At the end of the week, I returned home by car to my usual routine. As my home pediatrician said, “Your recovery is the result of faith and science!”

I have since found out that pregnant women with the Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome who have an abortion are more likely to die. Death from this syndrome is still high.

The baby is now in his thirties, in perfect health of mind, body and intellect. He works in the food testing industry so perhaps he has helped others not to get the dreaded ˜hamburger disease” that almost cost the life of he and his mother.

Barbara Gobbi
British Columbia