In July 2006, Demetris and Antonio Leach were anticipating the birth of their first son. The baby boy’s room was decorated; the bottles, diapers, blankets and onesies were ready and waiting for him. His big sister, Keyahria, was so excited; she was getting the little brother she had dreamed of for a long time. As a matter of fact, Keyahria was certain that her little brother was on his way even before her mother actually knew she was pregnant. She was just destined to be the best big sister ever.
Demetris’ pregnancy was pretty much uneventful with the exception of a low lying placenta previa, common in early pregnancy and most often resolved by delivery. Demetris’ 32-week ultrasound showed resolution of the placenta previa.
Khalil was due on August 8, 2006. Demetris was feeling the discomfort and excitement of late pregnancy. She and Antonio could not wait for his birth. In the early morning hours of July 30, 2006 Demetris awoke abruptly, very aware that her water had broke! She woke up Antonio….”it’s time”! So the journey had begun for what was supposed to be one of the happiest days in a parent’s life. Demetris gave Antonio his instruction to call the doctor and began to get ready for her trip to the hospital. On her way to the bathroom, Demetris started to bleed profusely which she compared to a faucet of running water. She was transported to the hospital by ambulance. She prayed and felt confident that God would protect the baby boy and he would be okay. After an ultrasound, the doctor told Demetris and Antonio the news that every parent dreads. There was no heartbeat and the blood loss was fetal blood.
At 12:22 p.m. on Sunday, July 30, 2006 Demetris delivered a beautiful baby boy, Khalil Londell Leach. He wasn’t moving, he wasn’t crying. Khalil had died. The little boy they had dreamed of and that big sister, Keyahria had longed for, never took a breath.
Demetris’ delivery was complicated by a rare condition, vasa previa.
Vasa previa is a condition in which blood vessels within the placenta or the umbilical cord are trapped between the fetus and the opening to the birth canal, a situation that carries a high risk the fetus may die from hemorrhage due to a blood vessel tearing at the time the fetal membranes rupture or during labor and delivery. Another danger is lack of oxygen to the fetus. Vasa previa often occurs with a low-lying placenta (due to scarring of the uterus by a previous miscarriage or a D&C), an unusually formed placenta (a bilobed placenta or succenturiate-lobed placenta), an in-vitro fertilization pregnancy, and multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc). Vasa previa also may accompany velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord. Vasa previa may not be suspected until the fetal vessel rupture occurs. Reduction in fetal mortality depends on prenatal diagnosis. When vasa previa is found before labor, the baby has a much greater chance of surviving. Vasa previa can be detected during pregnancy as early as the 16th week of pregnancy with use of transvaginal sonography in combination with color Doppler. When vasa previa is diagnosed, C-section before labor begins can save the baby's life. The C-section should be done early enough to avoid an emergency, but late enough to avoid problems associated with prematurityVasa previa is a rare condition occurring in 1 in every 3000 births. Awareness and education for pregnant women is an important tool in diagnosis and preparation for a safe delivery.