On Valentine’s Day 2017, Ebony Boyd (pictured above with Dr. Kirsten Lawrence Cleary), six months pregnant and dressed in a celebratory pink blouse, picked up two dozen red, white, and pink doughnuts decorated with heart sprinkles on her way to work. She had felt mild stomach pain that morning but chalked it up to “contracting and stretching muscles.” Soon into her workday, however, the pain intensified.
“It was out of control,” Ebony recalls. “I was bowled over, holding my stomach.”
A friend rushed Ebony to nearby NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, where tests showed there was no fetal heartbeat. While grappling with the devastating news that she had lost her baby as a result of a placental abruption, a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterus, Ebony began hemorrhaging, a potentially life-threatening event. She was also experiencing preeclampsia, or dangerously high blood pressure, another serious condition that can lead to seizure or stroke.
Physicians performed an emergency cesarean section and administered blood transfusions. But several days later, when she was due to go home, her care team saw that she had developed yet another potentially life-threatening complication — a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in her lung. Ebony remained at the hospital for five more days.
“I felt like a part of me was ripped out completely,” she says of her loss. She and her boyfriend had already chosen a name for their expectant baby boy: Bryce Alexander.
Now, 15 months later, Ebony, 36, is pregnant again. This time, she is one of the first patients of the Mothers Center, a new space at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital that provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care all in the same location — before, during, and after a high-risk pregnancy.
Announced in time for Mother’s Day 2018, the Mothers Center comes at a time when the high rate of maternal deaths and “near misses” in the United States has become a major public health concern.
Dr. Mary D’Alton, the visionary behind the groundbreaking new Mothers Center, says she hopes it will be the first of many such centers nationwide.
“The Mothers Center is the first of its kind in the country to provide multidisciplinary care for a pregnant woman with complicated medical or surgical conditions, all in one space,” says Dr. D’Alton, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “We are excited to introduce a model of maternal care that we hope will reduce the high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity we see in New York and across the country.”