Unexpected Placenta Increta Diagnosis Leads to Selfless Organ Donation

Placenta Increta is a serious and life-threatening disorder that is often difficult to diagnose through imaging. Hoping to help other families, BIDMC patient Stephanie Goodell offers her organs and biological material to Dr. Shainker's groundbreaking research on biomarkers for placenta disorders. Here's her story.

BIDMC Patient Stephanie GoodellBy Stephanie Goodell

There are two things that truly help when you’re in need of critical medical care: a supportive circle of friends and family to lean on, and doctors that have incredible medical expertise combined with great compassion.

I was so hopeful about my hard-earned pregnancy, and in the 5th month, I experienced Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) which put my body into early labor. What had been an uneventful, healthy and stress-free pregnancy (with not a single episode of morning sickness!) became a crisis. And quickly.

The baby’s heartbeat remained strong as my cervix dilated and closed with no rhyme or reason. At almost 22 weeks, it was too soon to deliver a baby that could survive. After 3 days in labor, my body began to fail and my health became critical. Friends came to my bedside, held my hand and dried my tears.

I ended up spending 2 weeks in the hospital with a variety of complications, ending up with the need to remove my uterus due to infection. Although I knew it meant that my journey to motherhood in any traditional way would be over, I also trusted the doctors who knew that it was the only way for me to recover from a serious infection.

After my hysterectomy, the doctors made an incredible discovery that helped me develop an appreciation for what could have been... the biopsy showed that I had Placenta Increta, a serious and life-threatening disorder that likely would have caused significant hemorrhaging during labor. This would have been a situation that no one would have been prepared for given that my pregnancy had been uncomplicated and the issue had not shown on my imaging, which is often the case for this particular disorder.

Throughout my time at BIDMC, I observed the gentle and caring language and approach the doctors used as they cared for me. Sensitive to my heartbreak, yet expressing such clear clinical expertise, I felt that I was in a very special place and lucky to have landed with Dr. Shainker and his team. Additionally, the doctors worked with me to make critical decisions along the way. I was seen as an essential part of my own care team.

As a result of the amazing care that the OB/GYN team awarded me, I came out of a medical crisis with a great amount of resiliency and a commitment to giving back to BIDMC. Hoping that fewer families will have to go through what I went through, I offered my organs and biological material to the groundbreaking research Dr. Shainker is doing on biomarkers for placenta disorders. Given that imaging doesn’t always reflect such a dangerous diagnosis, there needs to be a way to test for it. When there is an early diagnosis, a multi-disciplinary team can be assembled to support the family through labor and delivery with a greater degree of success.

Each time I run into my doctors, they ask about my friends and family who gathered to spend long nights with me in the hospital. "How are your people?" they ask, treating me with a true kindness and caring that sets the standard in healthcare. What could have been a huge, dark cloud in my life has become one with many opportunities to give back to those who healed me in my most critical moments of medical need.