An unborn baby's fingernail nearly killed her mother-to-be when it passed into her lungs via her bloodstream during delivery, according to recent accounts. Alternatively, it may have been hair from the fetus rather than a fingernail. The bizarre incident left the new mother in a temporary coma after she delivered twins. The new mom and both of her newborn daughters are doing fine, but it was a long road for the trio. On Jan. 6, 2013, The Daily Mail documented the story behind this mother's near death and ultimate survival.
For Angela Cottam, the rare condition resulted in internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, collapsed lungs and the need for 22 blood transfusions. Her coma lasted 12 hours, but her hospitalization lasted one full week.
The condition is rare, but it isn't unique. It actually occurs in one of 80,000 births. According to the Mayo Clinic, it isn't fully understood why this condition happens, but mothers 35 or older may be at an increased risk for amniotic fluid embolism. Cottam is 32. Other risk factors include preeclampsia, placenta problems, medically induced labor, genetics and operative delivery such as a C-section.
Fortunately, the medical professionals attending the birth of her twin daughters actually realized what was happening. Cottam had been admitted to Countess of Chester Hospital with pre-eclampsia when her doctors decided to induce labor to save her unborn babies. After labor was induced, Cottam developed the symptoms of an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare condition where amniotic fluid containing cells from the unborn baby pass into the mother's bloodstream. In her case, this fluid entered her lungs, and her allergic reaction indicated that one of the unborn babies' fingernail or hair had entered her lungs along with the fluid. Amelie and Ava were delivered via C-section.
The new mom also has one older child, a four-year-old daughter named Olivia.
Cottam spoke about how her unborn baby's fingernail nearly cost her life. "I feel so lucky to be here and really blessed that both the girls are with us because it could have been so different," she said. "There are moments when I’ve been on my own and I’ve had a little cry and thought 'What if?' But I try not to dwell on that and just thank my lucky stars the doctors and midwives on duty that day recognized what was happening."