Entries in Autonomic Hyperreflexia (1)


Texas Woman Paralyzed in Car Crash Gives Birth

KTRK/ABC News(HOUSTON) -- At first it seemed as if Krystal Pierre was the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her sister and grandmother last August, until doctors realized that Pierre's unborn child -- she was two months pregnant at the time -- had made it through the wreck as well.

The accident left the 29-year-old Houston woman paralyzed from the breastbone down -- she underwent four surgeries during the course of her pregnancy -- but she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, T.J.

Named after his father, Tony Joseph Pierre was born with his left leg shorter than his right, and is missing a bone in that leg, which doctors believe is unrelated to the accident.

Dr. Sean Blackwell, Pierre's ob-gyn, says Pierre was very lucky to have such an uneventful pregnancy.

"She was early in pregnancy at the time of the crash, so her uterus and the baby were still very tiny and protected by the belly," Blackwell told ABC News. "It's still pretty amazing that she was able to have these surgeries and the necessary medication and still deliver full term, vaginally," he says.

"Things were just on her side," says Blackwell, who is a maternal-fetal specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Pierre was no doubt lucky, but Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, says that paralysis during pregnancy is not as much of an obstacle as one might think.

"The main concern is a complication during labor known as autonomic hyperreflexia," he says.

Basically, when the internal organs are stimulated, people who are paralyzed will experience a hormone surge that raises their blood pressure. During labor, a paralyzed woman might get a hormone surge at each contraction, which can be life-threatening if not controlled medically.

In Pierre's case, two epidurals were administered to help combat her pain so that her body would not react in that way. Even though paralyzed, Pierre says she "definitely felt the contractions" and could, in fact, feel her son moving and kicking throughout the pregnancy.

Though T.J. will most likely undergo surgery at age two for the missing bone in his leg, Blackwell says for now the family is home getting used to life with a baby:

"We're all just adjusting to having him. He's the king, he rules everything," Pierre says, laughing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio