A life-threatening labor ordeal not only resulted in a woman giving birth to a stillborn son, but it also left her heavily bleeding while being infected with sepsis. As a result, she ended up losing both her legs and her uterus.
But her struggle to recover from the tragedy is an inspiring one, a journey she talks more about here:
Video credit: Rumble
Callie Colwick, 30, suffered from what’s called placenta accreta, a rare condition, while she was pregnant with her son, Quinn.
This results in the placenta detaching from the uterine wall following delivery, resulting in severe blood loss. Sadly, she lost Quinn and contracted sepsis soon after with some of her organs failing.
Doctors had to amputate Callie’s legs, her left thumb, and forefinger as well as remove her uterus because the tissue had “died” from the blood loss.
Callie, a graphic designer from McKinney, Texas, said: “My limbs started to die. My legs were black and shriveled up, my toes looked like raisins.”
After a year in ICU, she learned her health insurance refused to cover the $11,000 custom wheelchair she required to move around freely.
She couldn’t use a standard wheelchair and had to use diapers because she couldn’t get to the bathroom alone.
On December 31, 2019, she received an outstanding Instagram message from a kind stranger who offered to raise the funds so she could get a special wheelchair.
A GoFundMe campaign was started by Amy Bernhard, 32, and managed to raise a staggering $20,980 in only one day. The extra funds went to installing ramps in Callie’s home.
Callie became pregnant with Quinn in November 2016. As their second child, Callie and husband Kevin, 30, a web developer, were thrilled.
But when she was 15 weeks pregnant, Callie started bleeding heavily at work.
“I’d had light bleeding from day one,” Callie said. “But what made me go to the doctor was the heavy abdominal bleeding. I was passing blood clots. I was at work about to go into a meeting and I felt this gush of liquid – my pants were soaked in blood. I went straight to the hospital and called Kevin.”
Doctors informed Callie that Quinn was coming at any time and that sadly, he wouldn’t make it.
“They put me in the pregnancy wing. Here we were in this room, surrounded by women giving birth and babies crying and we were told that Quinn had no chance of survival and we were just waiting to give birth to him. It was a solemn few weeks.”
In a last-ditch effort to save Quinn, Callie was put in the Trendelenburg Position where her feet were elevated above her head.
“I hung like a bat trying to keep him inside through gravity,” she said.
“I was afraid of sneezing or going to the restroom in case my waters broke and he was born. It was a terrifying few weeks with nothing to do in the hospital but just wait.”
Finally, on December 26, 2016, doctors induced labor and a stillborn Quinn was born at just half a pound.
“I was fading in and out of consciousness,” Callie said.
“I wasn’t responsive, my eyes would roll to the back of my head and I was burning up. My fever had spiked way too high and they were packing ice onto me. They broke my waters and he was born. Quinn was too tiny to survive; he went straight to heaven. My husband was stuck between mourning the loss of his son and making all these medical decisions.”
A trauma doctor had to be flown in from Dallas during the delivery because Callie had lost so much blood.
“My uterus was hemorrhaging blood.
“Doctors were pumping blood into me as soon as it was flowing out.”
But Callie suffered a septic shock in her uterus which soon spread, necessitating the removal of her uterus.
She said: “My world went black. That infection overrode my entire body. They had to take out my uterus. The sepsis shut down my kidneys and my lungs so I was on a breathing machine.”
Doctors amputated Callie’s legs below the knee and part of her left hand two months later.
“I remember coming to, in extreme pain and confusion. My husband had to explain what happened. I had everything minus my uterus and my feet.”
She returned home in March 2018 after more than a year in ICU. Her health insurance also refused to pay for her prosthetics so she had to make do with a standard wheelchair that she couldn’t use on her own.
“The wheelchair they sent me home in was a basic chair off of Amazon.
“Kevin had to dress my wounds every day.”
On January 15, 2019, Callie managed to stand on her knees for the first time.
“Until then, Kevin had been picking me up and putting me in my chair.”
She finally got approved for prosthetics in April 2019 and she made a petition for a custom chair in October.
“My doctor put in the order and they denied my chair. It is just insane. I don’t have feet and I can’t put my prosthetics on by myself.”
After sharing her frustration on Instagram, Amy, a business coach from Lafayette, Louisiana, saw her story.
“I glanced at Callie’s page and as I watched her videos, I had tears come down my face,” Amy said.
“I had trouble sleeping because I could not stop thinking about what this woman had gone through.”
She sent Callie a message with an offer to start a GoFundMe campaign but Callie declined the offer at first.
Callie explained: “I messaged her back and said: ‘No thanks.’ I was still hoping that my insurance would approve it. But she just kept messaging me and then when my request was declined again for the chair, I agreed. I said: ‘Yes, do what you think is best.’”
Amy launched the campaign the next morning and Callie was astounded that the response.
“It was shared like wildfire,” she said.
“This generous gift from a complete stranger gives me the ability to make my home completely accessible. It’s a lightweight custom-built chair so I can pick it up by myself. I can actually wheel myself around in it. Imagine being trapped in a chair – for me, this chair is the difference between a chair that has wheels and one that doesn’t.”
Callie met Amy for the first time in person on January 24 when Amy flew to Dallas on a business trip.
The two bonded over dinner with Callie telling Amy how much a difference the special wheelchair has made.
“She shared with me what that wheelchair would actually do for her,” Amy said.
“She told me that it was the first time in three years that she was able to go to the bathroom herself.”
Callie added: “I felt like I had known Amy my whole life.”
But even with all the health challenges, Callie is eager to live her life to the fullest.
She said: “My hope is to help and inspire others. I was 27 when this happened – no one expects a 27-year-old mom to die. I truly feel like I am living on borrowed time now.”
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