Life Health & Wellbeing

Thursday 17 October 2019

'I couldn’t be a mother to my kids' - Woman who suffered deep vein thrombosis while she was pregnant

Donna Feeney
Donna Feeney
Donna Feeney
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A 29-year-old mother-of-two who suffered deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her last pregnancy has described how she "couldn't be a mother to her kids" because she was in so much pain.

Donna Guinan was eight months pregnant when, out of the blue, her left leg became swollen. 

When she was admitted to hospital, doctors discovered that Donna had suffered an iliofemoral DVT in her leg.

"The month before I turned 23, in March 2013, I realised I had to go to hospital. My left leg had swollen, I put on a tracksuit pants and there was no [spare] material left. I got pains in my leg as well,” she told Independent.ie.

“It was a clot in my groin, the full leg was swollen, my vein had collapsed in my stomach, from my groin all the way to my heart.”

Donna’s husband had to inject her with heparin, an anticoagulant drug, until she could be induced the following month.

“My husband had to dress me, bathe me, I couldn’t put on socks. My leg was so swollen.”

After her baby Savannah (now aged 6) was born, she had to take warfarin, a blood thinner, to prevent another clot while she waited to have stents inserted into the back of her knee.

"I could barely walk to the stairs. I’d be walking around Aldi and I’d have to bring my husband with me because I couldn’t push the trolley if it was half full.”

“I couldn’t be a mother to my kids. I was basically good for nothing; I had no life; I was overweight because I couldn’t exercise; I couldn’t play with the kids; I couldn’t sit down on the floor with blocks with my kids; I couldn’t shower on my own.”

The following October, Donna underwent a three-hour surgery to have two 14-centimetre stents inserted into the back of her knee.

The stents made in Ireland by Cook Medical meant that she did not have to undergo open surgery and as a result, she had a quick recovery, and was allowed home from hospital after one day.

Within a month, her life was back to normal, and she could once again go to the gym and do high intensity workouts.

“If I didn’t have that surgery, I wouldn’t have been able to be a mother to my kids."

“I got the surgery because I was young, I was told that if I was older I wouldn’t have been put forward for the surgery.”

Donna wore compression socks for two years and was advised not to have any more children in case her vein collapsed again.

“It’s rare in pregnancy and at my age, I was only 22, I was the youngest kid the doctor had ever seen.”

Now self-employed, Donna says she has been given a new lease of life.

“I’m childminding in my own home; I wouldn’t be able to work if I didn’t have that surgery. Now I’m able to bring my kids to gymnastics and activities, and I’m going on holidays with them, all that kind of stuff.”

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