San Antonio mom Gina Walker, 31, miraculously survived the birth of her fifth child after a rare complication nearly took her life on the operating table.

'catastrophic hemorrhage'

Walker was diagnosed with placenta percreta, where the placenta implants too far into the uterine wall and can, in extreme cases, grow into the bladder.

Emergency during labor

Gina Walker returned to the hospital this week to thank the doctors and medical staff who saved her life after she almost hemorrhaged to death on the operating table, according to The Associated Press. On Feb. 15, she arrived at the hospital for her planned cesarean section with an elected hysterectomy. Like most expecting moms, Gina thought she would heading home soon with a new baby in tow. As doctors said, the delivery went as planned, but then Gina started to hemorrhage. Doctors went through 30 units of blood in a flash and had to scramble for more.

"I watched cooler after cooler after cooler with my wife's name on it, full of blood, going up and down the hallways. I started getting worried," Dustin Walker, Gina's husband, said at the press conference.

The bleeding problem began to compound because Gina was losing clotting factor in the blood that was hemorrhaged.

"And for a brief period, we were able to get the hemorrhage under control enough to complete the operation we intended to do," said Dr. Kevin Hall, chief of gynecological oncology at UT Medicine San Antonio. "And then, just as we were close to the completion of that operation, she started to bleed massively again."

The final tally

Gina ended up going through 540 units of type B and O blood -- more than 35 gallons. Officials at the hospital's blood bank said it was the most blood ever used for one person.

Gina remained in the hospital for a month, but went home with only minor complications. She's had blurry vision in one eye. Not bad considering she likely could have suffered brain injury, stroke, paralysis or death.

Placenta percreta

"The condition Gina was diagnosed with affects about 1 percent of pregnancies."

The condition Gina was diagnosed with affects about 1 percent of pregnancies.

"Because of its propensity for severe hemorrhage, it is a potentially life-threatening condition," according to an article in the medical journal Urology.

Placenta percreta is the most severe form of placenta accreta, involving unusually deep attachments in the wall of the uterus. It is often discovered at the time of birth but in some cases can be diagnosed beforehand by ultrasound. The definitive cause for this condition is unknown, but researchers believe it may be correlated with prior cesarean section operations. Treatments include leaving the placenta in the uterus after the baby is born and a planned C-section before the onset of labor. In very extreme cases of placenta percreta, a total hysterectomy is needed as well as removal of the bladder.

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Comments on "Mom survives placenta percreta and 35-gallon blood transfer"

Gabbie March 30, 2014 | 9:11 PM

I am a survivor of placenta percreeta as well. Have any oif any of you had problems with scar tissue adhesions or your bowels after this surgery? anynother complications?

Sheri February 04, 2014 | 8:53 AM

I am a survivor as well. My ordeal, however, was quite severe. I delivered at 26 weeks. The baby, although premature, was born with his lungs fully developed, another miracle. He required no oxygen, and went home before I did. I woke up from surgeries, one month later, in cardio ICU. However, prior to that, I was on the operating table at St. Lukes Hospital in Houston for 7 days. They kept coming into the operating room in teams to save my life. I had a full hysterectomy, spleenectomy, partial nephrectomy, partial cystectomy, I was trached, and used over 1400 units of blood; near a Guiness Book of World Records for blood products used. I had 4 heart attacks on the table and was on life support. My case was rare, 14 years ago....I believe now, there is more awareness, and thus, more are surviving as well as the baby. My case study showed that to save the baby, and the mother, leaving the placenta in and treating with Methotrexate should be considered in any future cases. After reading and watching others go through this over the last 10+ years, I believe that it is the best chances of survival for all. The more blood products used, the less likely of clotting which was my issue; I now have unresolved ITP, that presents every time I am under anesthesia. No one knows, I posed a unique problem to the surgeons. One hospital was not enough to save me, St. Lukes, Methodist, Baylor College of Medicine, M.D. Anderson and Ben Taub's trauma unit all had a role in saving my life. I too have started a blog on wordpress. I think the more awareness we bring to this medical miracle the better. We are all survivors!! I am very blessed to be among you all who have endured this event.

Brianna Evans January 14, 2014 | 2:24 PM

I am also a survivor of placenta percreta. My baby was born at 26 weeks after severe hemorrhage and spent about 3 months in the nicu. Thankfully I was already in the hospital on bed rest, or I wouldn't have made it. I too had massive blood transfusions and almost didn't survive, and spent over a month in the hospital. I had a hysterectomy, bladder and ureter, and bowel repair and required a second surgery to repair all the damage. It really is an emotionally life changing thing, and I feel very blessed that I am here with my 6 kids and husband today. This condition affects so few pregnant women, less than 1 in 1000. Most women don't know much, if anything, about it, yet cases of it are on the rise due to increased c-section rates . It's so unusual that it is often overlooked by doctors too. I have spoken with Gina Walker, the survivor of this article, and she is a strong, amazing woman who has started a foundation to help bring awareness to this rare and life threatening condition. Visit HopeForAccreta.

Christina September 30, 2013 | 12:56 PM

Due to the rarity of this condition I have never known anyone else to suffer the same issues and fear that I did. I was the only case of it that the hospital I delivered at had ever seen. I had a wonderful OB/GYN and he was able to save my uterus and repair my bladder with no lasting effects. I also had Placenta Previa so when they did the C-Section incision I immediately started to bleed out. Not a fun thing to be awake for. But, like everyone else on here I am blessed to get to see all 4 of my babies grow up.

Silvia May 04, 2013 | 4:26 AM

I am also a survivor of placenta percreta. Unfortunately my baby didn't make it. I'm very grateful to be here and be able to raise my 2 other children.

monique January 24, 2013 | 12:52 AM

Its great to see another survior of this complication. I had the same issue but my progressed so bad that I ended deliering my daughter at 25 weeks. She is still in the nicu and won't be out hopefully by the end of next month. I have serious ptsd from the whole thing. I am just thankful more then anything I can see all 3 of my children grow up!

Heather December 12, 2012 | 10:45 AM

As a person who has experienced this, it is life changing. Especially when unexpected, complications with baby hide symptoms, and diagnosed after two trips to ER for severe bleeding. I am thankful for everyday I can see my children. I have four and they are my angel lifesavers. I recovered because of the desire my four kids needed their mom, not giving up and a husband that can drive to reach impossible distances in a time to save my life. This is such a real diagnosis that is often overlooked because of its rarity. Life is short, make it the best!

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