Amniotic fluid embolism: Chicago area mom, baby survive rare but often fatal birth complication

Leah Hope Image
Monday, November 22, 2021
Chicago area mom, baby survive often fatal birth complication
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Jamie Miller has immense gratitude for her friends and former co-workers who saved her after she survived an amniotic fluid embolism, or AFE.

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A local mother and her newborn son are getting ready to spend Thanksgiving together after beating the odds in the hospital.

Jamie Miller wanted to be at Advocate Condell Medical Center - where she had worked previously - when she went into labor. Her baby Michael is now 8 weeks old, but they both came very close to dying due to a rare complication.

"I felt a sudden sharp excruciating pain in my chest, kinda felt like all the cells in my body went to one place," Miller said.

It was a rare often fatal condition called amniotic fluid embolism, or AFE.

"I just let them take care of me," Miller said. "I do know these people, so I kind of knew who was around me."

"There is a lot of bleeding and it's hard to fix, there's no good fix for it," said Dr. Dianna Kim, an obstetrician gynecologist. "During that critical time it was like a doom, like, this couldn't be happening. It's my worst fear. it's like, will she make it?"

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"At the time you don't think, you just do," labor and delivery nurse Sheila Roggemann said. "You aren't processing what's happening, you are just trying to get her to live."

Miller received 65 units of blood products with blood coming from other facilities before she stabilized. After one week, she was finally able to meet her newborn. The life-threatening ordeal came after Miller's 7-year-old daughter died from cancer several years ago.

"The fact that we came out of this, if you look at the statistics, it's very rare," Miller said. "So I'm just very grateful."

Miller has immense gratitude for her friends and former co-workers who saved her life and that of her son, and for the generous blood donors who kept her alive with their blood.

"Life is going to take a path you don't get to choose anyway," Miller said. "Just let it happen and enjoy the moments that you can."

Miller, her husband, her teenage son and baby Michael have no big plans for the holidays, except to enjoy the moments together.