HealthWACH: Bionic woman - Against all odds



Shannon Smith was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. During her emergency C-section, she slipped into a coma that lasted for three weeks. When she finally woke up, she discovered that she had contracted septic shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation, which led to blood clots, loss of circulation, and kidney and liver failure. In order to keep her alive, doctors were forced to amputate significant portions of both of her arms and legs.

Septic Shock, also called Sepsis, is an extreme immune system response to an infection that has spread throughout the blood and tissues. Severe sepsis often causes extremely low blood pressure. Symptoms can include fever or low body temperature, rapid breathing, chills and shaking, rapid heartbeat, decreased urine output, and confusion or delirium. It is most often the result of a bacterial infection, but it can also be caused by other types of infection. Sepsis can happen to anybody, but it is most often found in older adults, infants, and people with compromised immune systems. Sepsis is treated with fluids, antibiotics, and medicines to control blood pressure and prevent organ damage.

DIC is a rare, life-threatening condition that prevents a personâ??s blood from clotting normally. It may cause excessive clotting (thrombosis) or bleeding (hemorrhage) throughout the body and can lead to shock, organ failure, and death. When the bodyâ??s natural ability to regulate blood clotting does not function correctly, the platelets (the bloodâ??s clotting cells) clump together and clog small blood vessels throughout the body. DIC can be triggered by a health problem that sets the clotting in motion, like types of bacterial infections, severe trauma, some cancers, complications during pregnancy, and some types of snakebites. The severity of bleeding can range from small red dots and bruises under the skin to heavy bleeding from surgical wounds or body openings, like the mouth, nose, rectum, or vagina. Symptoms of organ damage caused by excessive blood clotting may include shortness of breath from lung damage, low urine output from kidney damage, or stroke from damage to the brain.