Mother Reunites With UH Parma Team Who Saved Her Life From Postpartum Complications

Natassia and Ricky Safranek returned to UH Parma Medical Center's Emergency Department with their 1-year-old son, Lenny, to reunite with the team who saved Natassia's life last summer right after her son's birth. Pictured here with the Safraneks, clockwise from left, are Michael Kelley, MD, medic Adam and nurses Brit and Nyah.

Just days after delivering her baby three months early at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Natassia Safranek was rushed to UH Parma Medical Center’s Emergency Department, her blood pressure spiking as it did in precipitating her little boy’s premature birth.

Lenny was born at 27 weeks, weighing only 1 pound, 11 ounces. He spent more than two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UH Rainbow. Now a healthy 1 year old, he and his parents, Natassia and Ricky Safranek, reunited with the ED team that saved her life.

“My husband & I cannot speak any more highly of the staff at UH altogether – and for each and every individual who came in contact with us who literally saved my life and my son's life,” Natassia said.

She was discharged from UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital with a blood pressure machine and explicit instructions to monitor her condition. When she felt terrible and her blood pressure was skyrocketing, she told paramedics to transport her to UH Parma because it was part of University Hospitals, a recognized leader in addressing pregnancy-related complications and providing timely treatment.

“Post-partum preeclampsia is a serious condition,” said Michael Kelley, MD, the physician in UH Parma’s ED who identified Natassia’s post-partum emergency as HELPP syndrome, a rare but serious complication often related to preeclampsia. “UH Parma is a community hospital with many specialties, but we also know when our patients need a higher level of care.”

In July 2021, a sharp pain under Natassia’s right breast was the telltale sign of preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure. Alarmed, she texted a friend and new mother about her symptoms, and the response chilled her: CALL YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT NOW. THIS IS PREECLAMPSIA.

Natassia quickly got in to see the OB/GYNs at South Suburban Women’s Center. The ultrasound showed the baby rotating in her womb, but Natassia could not feel the movement. Doctors scheduled her for a follow-up diagnostic ultrasound with OB imaging at UH Cleveland Medical Center and told her she absolutely must make this appointment.

“I saw on the screen that he was moving, but I couldn’t feel him,” Natassia recalls.

In the few hours before heading downtown, Natassia began violently vomiting and was wracked by intense pain across her belly. Her blood pressure was skyrocketing. At UH MacDonald, she was whisked off for testing, which found elevated liver enzymes and plummeting platelets. She was given magnesium sulfate intravenously to lower her blood pressure to avoid seizures that could lead to a stroke. Natassia was told her baby would be delivered by cesarean section.

“They were very fast-acting and very informative at UH MacDonald,” Natassia says. “The labor and delivery nurses and doctors were fantastic. I felt like I was on a cloud.”

Leonard Edwin, the namesake of his great-grandfathers, was born Friday, July 9 at 2:57 p.m. Natassia and Lenny’s father Ricky could not see him for the first 24 hours.

Further testing found that Natassia suffered from HELPP syndrome, a rare but serious complication often related to preeclampsia. This caused her blood pressure to spike, leading to palpitations in her heart and throat, and she felt awful. Natassia was stabilized before she went home, but nurses gave her a digital blood pressure machine to monitor herself.

When her blood pressure shot up to 188/110 a few days later, she knew exactly what she needed to do. She called 9-1-1 and insisted on being taken to UH Parma, since it was affiliated with UH. Within seconds upon her arrival, nurses Nyah and Britt and medics Sam and Adam were bustling around the room, hooking up IVs and an EKG to check her blood pressure.

“EMS brought me to UH Parma, where they didn’t skip a beat,” Natassia says. “The staff at UH Parma were truly amazing and extremely compassionate.”

Dr. Kelley swiftly facilitated Natassia’s transfer to UH MacDonald, where she had delivered her baby. Her postpartum stay only lasted two days. She felt comforted knowing her treatment was delivered in the same location as her son, just a hallway away from her in UH Rainbow’s NICU.

“My husband and I are forever grateful to every single person at UH Parma and main campus who have been a part of this wild journey that we are only just beginning,” Natassia wrote in a letter of thanks to her caregivers. “I thank you all for saving my life and I am overcome with emotion knowing that it was a very scary possibility that I could very well not be here today along with my son.”

CJ Sheppard

UH Parma Medical Center

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:43 AM, 08.01.2022