“I had gone to a public hospital before,” says a female amputee in RJ

More than three months ago, the woman who was rushed to give birth at a private hospital in Rio and ended up having her hand and wrist amputated after the birth of her baby had to relearn once-simple activities. Waiting for answers, she struggles to overcome the daily limits of motherhood, she awaits the start of rehabilitation, the arrival of a prosthesis and the discovery of a new function in her work.

Gleice Kelly Gomes Silva, 24, had a two-hour meeting with doctors, mediators and the legal department at NotreDame Intermédica Women’s Hospital, in Jacarepaguá, west of the city, and was left disappointed.

I expected more from this meeting, honestly. I was offered a deal but declined. They said they will give me the prosthesis and rehabilitation, but that’s the minimum, right? They said I needed an ambulance equipped for the transfer, but there was none. They said they prioritized my life over my hand. But who can tell me that it was so?”

Now he awaits the result of the expert report, made by the IML (Medico Legal Institute) and the investigations conducted by the Regional Council of Medicine and the Public Prosecutor of Rio de Janeiro to get an answer. The hospital claims that there was no medical error and that the loss of the arm was not caused by the venous access, placed to administer drugs.

“I have searched various YouTube and TikTok content of people who have commented on my case. These health professionals explain and give different hypotheses about what led to the amputation, much more clearly than the hospital, inclusive.”

Amputee woman after giving birth tries to relearn simple skills

challenges of motherhood

A mother of three, Gleice needs to relearn skills she previously took for granted, such as bathing, bottle feeding and diaper changing.

I tried to bathe my son, but I couldn’t. I need a support that is like a buoy to hold up the baby, this will make things much easier for me. I made friends with a girl on the internet who is a mother and she also has no arms. She sends me videos on how to change a diaper, how to take a bath, how to tie my hair back. She helped me a lot”.

Gleice’s support network has been instrumental in not going through this alone. In addition to her husband, she has the help of her mother, aunt, sister and mother-in-law, who provide daily support for her daily activities.

“As soon as my arm was amputated, my mother and husband went online to look for videos and ways to help me through it. Their help was very important to me.”

Gleice hasn’t yet adapted her home to the new routine, but she says she’s made an effort to live life as normally as possible.

“I really want the prosthesis, but I’m afraid my body will reject it, so it will be another frustration. My goal is to adjust to the way I am, because if it works, fine, if not, I’ll be fine.”

Since she was hospitalized, her milk has dried up and, therefore, she is unable to breastfeed the baby. Levi is bottle-fed. As soon as she was discharged, she received several diapers and cans from friends and work colleagues who came to visit her, but her supply of milk is already running out.

Professional life

The supermarket cashier still doesn’t know what role she will play in May when she returns to her work environment.

“They still don’t know what position I’m going to take and they said I might as well go back to the same position, but I confess I don’t want to, because I’m in the business of money. If there are any errors in counting the notes, the responsibility will be mine. They are already talking about which function I will stay, but I confess that I want to learn about another sector. I could stay in telesales, human resources or even the grocery store. Getting something is easier than dealing with money.”

The supermarket has started a rehabilitation program to help Gleice come back after maternity leave and holidays. Every week they call her and set up meetings to find out how the recovery process is going.

“My job has a lot of growth opportunities. I thought about doing HR (university) in the future, but I’m also afraid of overloading, damaging my other hand, if I go to college. I have to think about all this now. I’m still trying to understand how it will be, if I have to do exercises, these things”.

Among many messages of solidarity, he has not received any help from doctors who wanted to contribute in some way. For the meeting, she and the attorney tried to bring in a professional to help clarify the information, but to no avail.

Before, I had gone to a public hospital. I had my other children at SUS, no problems. What gave me the joy to go through all this was Levi. Just knowing she’s okay, I feel relieved.”.

understand the case

  • Gleice was hospitalized for a normal delivery on October 9, 2022, at 39 weeks’ gestation.
  • After presenting complications due to a haemorrhage, she had to be transferred to the hospital unit of São Gonçalo, in the metropolitan region.
  • During the treatment of the bleeding condition, the access to receive drugs to the left arm, performed at the Hospital by Mulher de Jacarepaguá, worried Gleice and the family, due to the swelling and purplish discolouration of the hand.
  • About 12 hours later, according to the patient’s family, the staff decided to get access into the other arm and then access deep into the patient’s neck.
  • Gleice was transferred, her hand and forearm were bruised, and four days later she received word that she would need an amputation.

The doctor said it wasn’t the venous access that caused Gleice’s amputation, which was unrelated. He said she saved her life or saved her hand. I mean, you can only have one problem, if you have two, do you have to choose? There had to be a qualified medical team to perform the correct maneuvers.
Monalisa Gagno, patient advocate

See, in full, what the hospital says happened:

The Women’s Hospital says, in a note to UOL, that, in Gleice’s care, all material and human resources were made available, including three anesthesiologists, nine midwives and three vascular surgeons, as well as a nursing team. He also says that “all protocols for cases of severe bleeding were followed before the transfer of the patient”. The necessary drugs have been administered; a curettage was performed; and two Bakri balloons were placed”.

“With the aim of guaranteeing the best conditions to assist the patient in her recovery, the Hospital da Mulher placed at her complete disposal professionals capable of providing medical assistance, psychological support and physiotherapy services. It also offered her the possibility to provide a prosthesis that allows you to readjust to your routine,” the statement said.

Previously, the health unit described the step-by-step care and what may have led to the amputation:

  • The patient had a history of multiple pregnancies, including some complications, which increases the risk of postpartum hemorrhage, in addition to gestational diabetes;
  • The delivery was uneventful, with the baby born alive and well;
  • The patient presented with a significant pattern of postpartum hemorrhage which progressed to severe hemorrhagic shock secondary to uterine atony and uterine inversion. This condition is responsible for 60% of maternal deaths in the postpartum period: 45% of these deaths occur in the first 24 hours. Postpartum hemorrhage accounts for 25% of all maternal deaths worldwide, according to the medical literature;
  • The immediate measures taken in the hospital ensured the maintenance of the patient’s life;
  • The left arm was immediately treated after the first signs of ischemia secondary to hemorrhagic shock, as reported in the medical report;
  • All measures and decisions taken had the priority of saving the patient’s life until she had better conditions for transfer to a more complex hospital;
  • The patient received assistance from all the necessary doctors, specialists and resources in an effort to preserve her left arm. However, due to the irreversible worsening of the condition with venous thrombosis of the muscular and subcutaneous veins, it was necessary to opt for the amputation of the limb for the sake of the patient’s life.

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