Mother with sickle cell anemia barely survives pregnancy

A young mother with sickle cell anemia almost does not survive the birth of her baby. Alise Citizen said doctors warned her never to have children because of the high risk for her own health and that of the baby. She did not discover the pregnancy until she was nearly 5 moths along, said Citizen. Dr. Gisele McKinney, OB/GYN at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, took on her high risk case and thought at one point that young mother would not make it.

"By the time we delivered there was a very high chance we were going to lose her," said Dr. McKinney.

Citizen's sickle cell anemia causes her red blood cells to form in the shape of sickles, a half moon, "so they don't carry oxygen  the way they should. They break apart. They cause clotting and they cause severe pain," explained Dr. McKinney.

During pregnancy, she said, a woman is supposed to gain 50 percent more blood volume, but with sickle cells this process caused a crisis.

"We couldn't keep her hemoglobin up. We couldn't keep her liver enzymes down. She was losing red blood cells as fast as we could give them to her," said Dr. McKinney.

Dr. McKinney made the call to surgically remove the baby from Citizen more than two months before the due date.

"The mom was having more problems than the baby, so we had to make a decision that was best for both of them," she explained.

London Citizen, the newborn, was only two pounds when born, but survived and strengthened in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

"She was moving her head. She moves from side to side since she was in the NICU. She's really strong," said Citizen.

Baby London has no health issues now weighing over seven pounds.

"That's a miracle in and of itself because the father had sickle cell trait and with the mom being sickle cell positive she carries both alleles so the baby is indeed a carrier, but she had a very high chance of having the disease," said Dr. Mckinney.

"She's very lucky! She has just the trait and that's something we all prayed for," gushed Citizen.

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