Alisha Loudon calls her daughter a miracle. But what is most extraordinary is Loudon’s medical journey to having her daughter. Based on the medical literature, women with her condition only have a 50 percent chance of surviving labor and delivery.
In July 2006, Loudon, now 30, of Clermont County, was diagnosed with a rare vascular condition that caused her to experience spontaneous blood clots in the deep veins of the abdomen and pelvis. The condition was a medical anomaly—she was a young nonsmoker with no family history of vascular disease and no discernable blood disorders that would lead to blood clots.
She ended up in a community hospital after mild back pain that led to unexplained abdominal pains and swelling in both her legs. The pain was so intense, she could barely walk. After 17 days without answers, she was referred to UC Health hematologist Carl Siegrist, MD, who immediately admitted Loudon to the emergency room at UC Health University Hospital. It was there that Loudon met vascular surgeon Amy Reed, MD, and began a barrage of medical treatments in an attempt to save her life.
Loudon was rushed to the angiography suite where the main vein in the abdomen was opened up with clot-busting medicine, a small suction tubing (catheter) to remove clots and ultimately balloons and stents—all done through small needle punctures in her legs in an attempt to prevent fatal blood clots from breaking away and traveling to her lungs.
“Ms. Loudon has May-Thurner syndrome, an unusual disorder where the constant pulsation of the iliac artery over the top of a large vein in the hip area can cause scarring inside the vein much like a spider’s web,” explains Reed, who is also an associate professor of surgery at the UC College of Medicine and program director of the vascular surgery fellowship and integrated residency.
“At some point, flow through the vein will get sluggish enough that the entire system, including the largest vein in the body, can clot off.”
Four surgeries, five permanent stents and a blood transfusion later, Loudon was stable despite the odds. Loudon was told at the time she had the stents put in that it would be too risky from a medical perspective to have children because of the high likelihood that the stents would be crushed and possibly lead to a life-threatening blood clot for her and possible demise of her fetus. She was put on blood thinners and, fortunately, experienced no further complications.
Although the doctors had cautioned against it, in July 2008 Loudon and her husband decided they wanted to have children and started trying to conceive. She made an appointment to see Arthur Evans, MD, a UC Health maternal-fetal medicine obstetrician and chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the UC College of Medicine.
Evans and his team manage high-risk pregnancies through the University Hospital Perinatal Treatment Center and serve as part of the Fetal Care Center of Cincinnati, a collaboration between University Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“Both Dr. Evans and Dr. Reed felt very strongly that I should not get pregnant and carry a child, so after much discussion we went to see a surrogacy doctor to determine alternative options,” recalls Loudon. Four and half weeks later, the couple found out they were expecting.
“Even though my doctors advised against it, I felt like my pregnancy happened for a reason and I wanted to have the baby.”
Under the combined monitoring and care of Evans, his maternal-fetal medicine fellow Ryan Loftin, MD, and Reed, Loudon progressed through her pregnancy without any major problems or complications. She was placed on the blood thinner Lovenox to prevent life-threatening blood clots and monitored progressively—first monthly, then weekly and eventually twice a week—by Evans and Loftin for signs of distress in her or the baby.
On July 6, 2009, Loudon and her husband, Cory, welcomed their daughter, Addison, who was delivered by Evans and Loftin at University Hospital via scheduled cesarean section two weeks early.
“Everything went perfectly and my doctors took such amazing care of me,” says Loudon. “Addison is our one and only little miracle baby. We are so thankful for her.”
After the birth, Loudon underwent tubal ligation to prevent future pregnancies because her body wouldn’t be able to take the stress of another pregnancy. A follow-up ultrasound of her venous stents miraculously found that they had not been crushed and remained wide open.
“Very few patients in the world have been reported to come through a successful pregnancy without crushing these stents,” says Reed. “Alisha and Addison are true miracles. I am so happy they proved us and the odds wrong.”
“I had 100 percent faith in Dr. Evans the moment I met him and I was referred to him by four different people, so this gave me comfort. I feel as if Dr. Reed has been my guardian angel from the very start of my medical treatment in 2006,” adds Loudon.
“My daughter and I are both living proof that University Hospital makes miracles happen!”
To learn more about the services and physicians of UC Health, visit www.ucphysicians.com or call (513) 475-8000. To make an appointment with a vascular surgeon, call (513) 558-3700; for obstetrics and gynecology, call (513) 475-8266. To reach the University Hospital Perinatal Center, call (513) 584-4800.