Friday, May 29, 2009

Arizona Birth News: Further Details on Maternal/Child Death

The following was released in the Arizona Republic today, concerning state treasurer Dean Martin's wife and baby, who both died this week following the baby's birth:

"The Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner has released the cause of death of Kerry Martin, State Treasurer Dean Martin’s wife. They say she suffered a ruptured benign tumor in her liver known as an adenoma. According to the American Liver Foundation, adenomas of the liver are rare and asymptomatic."

I asked Nursing Birth why this would affect a term infant, and she postulated the following:

"The reason the ruptured ademoma would effect the term infant, is from blood loss. Maternal blood volume increases 45-50% in pregnancy, so a “benign” condition in a non-pregnant woman, can become a problem in a pregnant woman, if that condition is sensitive to blood volumes. The ruptured liver ademona could cause a catastrophic internal hemorrhage for the mom, thus causing hypovolemic shock in the infant. Very sad."

("Hypovolemic shock is a particular form of shock in which the heart is unable to supply enough blood to the body. It is caused by blood loss or inadequate blood volume.")

I'm guessing that this birth included a cesarean to save the baby, which was not successful (someone watching the news had mentioned that a cesarean was involved). Fascinating stuff - but still utterly tragic.


  1. This is so sad. In doing some quick research into this (never having heard of it before), I found very quickly that hepatocellular adenoma (the clinical name for what she had) is rare, which is good, but 90% of cases occur in women, and are associated with oral contraceptive use, particularly estrogen. The new low-dose pills have less estrogen, so the rate of this disease is a lot lower than it was a generation ago, but it still can happen. Also, anabolic steroids can also be blamed (I'm assuming this may be to blame for the 10% male rate -- far more women taking birth control than men taking steroids).


  2. This could also be a comment on the practice of many MD's to not give serious attention to womens' complaints; dismissing a report of "pain," or "discomfort," with a diagnosis of "gas" or attribute it to the normal "agony" of pregnancy-especially as many have no personal experience with it. I remember a doctor who examined me during a pregnancy where there was an orange-sized ovarian cyst, that really hurt during his pelvic exam. When I cried out, he said, "it's your fourth child, you should be used to pain."

    Statistically women complain less than men, and doctors give less credence to their complaints.

    There are more and more empathetic doctors, just takes effort to find them.



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