A woman had to have both feet, her right arm at the elbow, and left hand amputated after she developed septicemia following an abortion at a French hospital.
Priscilla Dray of Bordeaux decided to have an abortion, with her husband's approval, when she discovered she was pregnant again soon after the birth of their third child.
Dray was admitted to the maternity unit of the University Hospital of Bordeaux for the abortion on a Friday afternoon in the summer of 2011, according to Sud Ouest.
Following the abortion and the insertion of an IUD, Dray was sent home. But on Saturday she returned to the hospital complaining of pain and a fever.
According to Dray, she was met by the on-duty intern, who removed the IUD and took blood and urine samples before sending her home.
The blood test revealed the presence of type A streptococcus pyogenes. The body's defense against this type of infection results in a constriction of the blood vessels in the arms and legs in order to support the vital organs, the heart and brain. With the lack of circulation to the extremities, the tissue dies and there is no other treatment but amputation.
Dray had the symptoms of septic shock and on Sunday morning the doctor on duty at the hospital prescribed immediate antibiotic injections and ordered Dray to return to the maternity ward, where she arrived around noon.
However, the infection had now spread to the point where the quadruple amputation was the only option to save the woman's life.
The investigation that was ordered following the incident is still ongoing, but, tired of waiting for the outcome, the couple is suing the hospital, alleging the medical team responsible for Dray's care did not prescribe the antibiotics soon enough after the sepsis set in.
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Professor Jacques Horovitz, head of the University Hospital of Bordeaux department where the situation developed, disclaims any fault on the part of the hospital staff. According to Sud Ouest, Horovitz said it was not possible to diagnose septic shock any earlier.
Dray is now also looking into the possibility of a hand transplant, although the cost is reportedly about 150,000 euros.
Professor Laurent Lantieri, chief of plastic surgery at the Pompidou hospital in Paris and a pioneer of hand transplant surgery, said he has been following the Dray case but is not optimistic.
“In the 1970s, abortion was legalized, especially to prevent women from dying of bleeding or infections,” Lantieri commented to Sud Ouest.
“We said that we have the best medicine in the world, but what happened is fairly incomprehensible. Cases like this are rare but not exceptional. There was clearly a significant delay in diagnosis.”