Her Blood Clot Story as told by her mother

Ashleigh LittlefieldThe day life changed forever.
I am a hardworking wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.  I have raised three amazing children and been married for just over 25 years.  My family is very unique as we live close to each other and most of us work together in a family business. I am writing to share my story about how a blood clot changed our lives forever.

First, I would like to tell you about my Ashleigh – my first-born.  She was a wonderful child. She and I had a relationship like no other – she became my best friend as she grew, and the love I felt for her was amazing.  She graduated from high school in 2009. During her high school years, she was active in drama and show choir.  She loved being on stage.  Her goal was to go to cosmetology school after high school and she was well on her way.

In May of 2010 my daughter, Ashleigh was a busy 18-year old. She loved her younger brother and sister so much and they were fun to be around.  We had just returned from a family cruse vacation in April and had made some amazing memories.  Ashleigh had a wonderful boy friend. She was a cosmetology student with just about 150 hours left before she graduated and she was happy.  Growing up she had some health problems with acid reflux, but for the most part she was pretty healthy.

It was Memorial Day weekend and we were looking forward to her coming home on Sunday night for our annual BBQ on Monday.  She had been texting her brother most of the day, and we had made some fun plans at home for a family day.  She was driving home from her boyfriend’s home, which was about an hour away.  Ashleigh had spent the day laying in the sun and visiting with Rick and his family. She never told me that she didn’t feel well during the day.  She drove in our driveway at about 7:00 Sunday night – She walked up our driveway and on to our deck.  Her dad watched her put her hand on the door and fall backwards.  She never opened the door to get into the house.  She dropped on our deck and in seconds her dad and I were at her side; her brother and sister were standing watching.  I immediately called for an ambulance and within a few minutes her dad was doing CPR and the ambulance had arrived – she came to for only a few seconds to look at her dad and say she was having hard time breathing – then she was gone.

They transported her to the hospital and an hour after we arrived we were told our healthy 18 year old daughter was gone.  I believe we watched her die on our deck within minutes of her driving home, but I am grateful to all the people who tried to save her life.

 After she died, there were many unanswered questions and many thoughts and ideas of what happened to her.  After nearly 7 months of wondering we received the autopsy results that told us that our daughter had died from a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).  This was just unbelievable – didn’t those have symptoms? Wasn’t that treatable?  How could that happen to a young girl, no recent surgery or long trips?  No reason why she would have a blood clot.  It has taken many phone calls, many letters, many questions and 1 simple blood test to understand how this may have happened.  Ashleigh had prothrombin (a genetic clotting disorder), she was on the birth control pill, and we believe that is what caused her blood clot.  We have now learned that her father, her brother, her sister, her paternal grandmother and several of her siblings are all positive for prothrombin too.

I am hopeful that through sharing my story and information about this genetic disorder with others that maybe, just maybe it will make a difference in a life.  Maybe a young woman won’t suffer a miscarriage… Maybe a young girl will wake up tomorrow to create a lifetime of memories…. Maybe a mother won’t have to choose between a cardboard box, or a maple casket for her beloved daughter….

If research is true and approximately 5-8% of the US population has one of these clotting disorders and more than 60,000 Americans die each year from a blood clot (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), then how can we make a difference to that percentage? Look around and think that of 100 people you know and know that nearly 8 can have this disorder.  Think about all of your family members and wonder how many of them may have a blood clot silently within their body.  Think about your wives, husbands, kids, and friends – wonder.

While I realize that many people live with this disorder for years or maybe a lifetime with no symptoms – I know of at least one person that did not.  Ashleigh was young; she was an amazing young woman who had so much to offer. I believe she would have made a difference. During a scholarship interview back in 2009, she was asked why she wanted to go to cosmetology school. She responded to the committee, “I want to have the chance to make people feel beautiful.” I know she would have made a difference, and maybe through her death and our willingness to share her story about this disorder, she has made that difference.

Take Home Messages

  • Blood clots happen to seemingly young, healthy people.
  • If you have trouble breathing and back or chest pain, see medical help immediately.
  • PEs can happen without any noticeable signs and symptoms of a deep veins thrombosis o DVT (leg clot)
  • Hormonal birth control increases your risk of a blood clot, especially if you have a clotting disorder.
  • Most people don’t know they have clotting disorders until they or a family member has a blood clot.
  • If a family member has a blood clot from a clotting disorder, consider getting tested.
  • From love and tragedy comes activation to make a difference and save lives.
Author: admin

13 Responses to "In Memory of Ashleigh Littlefield: Her Blood Clot Story"

  1. sherry Posted on January 21, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I went to cosmetology school with Ashleigh. She was a beautiful and kind person and would have been an amazing stylist. Truly a loss to everyone who knew and loved her.

  2. cheryl Posted on January 21, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I lost my 20 yr old daughter oct. 2005 she thought she had a chest cold talked to her mon-thurs on the phone she was taking over the counter meds thinking she had a chest cold, friday my 20 yr old daughter passed away from a bllood clot to her lung. She was taking birth control a parent never thinks their child would be gone before them,there are no words to explain the hurt and pain the yr before my 22 yr old son was killed.

  3. Jenny Tavendale Posted on January 22, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Another clotting condition that can cause Pulmonary Embolisms is Leiden Factor Five…….regular blood tests will never show this up it is known to run in families and although at the time I had several embolisms occur before I was actually tested. My whole family has now been tested and five of us have it. My advice to anyone in a family that may experience a PE is to get it checked for a proper diagnosis which other family members can be tested for. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious children I understand your pain having lost my beautiful son to a failed heart transplant.

  4. Paulette Posted on January 22, 2014 at 2:39 am

    The Littlefield Family have been an amazing family and show what family strength and love can do to keep a good family together, even after enduring such a heartfelt tragedy to not only them but a small town community. I communicated with Ashleigh moments before she collapsed on her family deck the eve of Memorial Day. Her amazing smile and wave of her hand as she passed my house remains in my memories, I still to this day have a difficult time remembering that split second of happiness and then a lifetime of sadness. Each Memorial Day I bow my head and pray I never have to say hello with a goodbye to a young person as lovely as Ash! God bless you Angel and your family.

  5. Kelly Posted on January 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your wonderful daughter. I am a survivor of a pulmonary embolism. I developed a DVT while pregnant with my daughter but didn’t find out about the lung clot until after she was born. I went to the dr. for pain in my leg and ended up going into the hospital with a clot in my lung. The doctors all said that most Pulmonary embolisms do not get discovered until it is too late. I hope with your story more people get tested for the clotting factors. God Bless you and your family!

  6. Betty Willey Look Posted on January 23, 2014 at 2:48 am

    I was diagnosed with the Factor lV – Leiden Mutation in 1995, after losing my eyesight in one eye. A few months before I had fallen on the ice and hit my head. I did see a Dr.and was told I had a mild concussion, this was all an after thought. At some point after this my labs were done, and found out that the Leiden Mutation was the reason.

    In 1989, I also had an embolism in my lungs, no reason as to why. I had several tests and each day I felt a little more tired. It was getting bad enough that I was tired after a shower, and had to rest. I decided to see my lung specialist. He did one test and then I was hospitalized for ten days flat on my back with a blood thinner. I have a history of bronchitis and pneumonia is the reason I already had a lung specialist to go to.

    My father had passed with a clot in his leg, complicated with cancer. Since this is an inherited problem, I was told to have my children checked. One of the five was diagnosed, but not enough to require medication.

    So Coumadin is the answer to making life easier, having labs often to be sure the blood is thin enough.
    I would hope this might help someone else with this problem. Don’t try to guess, keep seeing some Dr. that can give you an answer.

  7. Erick Robitaille Posted on January 23, 2014 at 3:20 am

    I dated Ashleigh back when she was a junior in high school and she sure was the most amazing talented loving caring women she really new how to make people smile and feel better If I had a bad day she new just what to say to make me smile! And ash was the way she was because she had the best parents ever supportive carting loving and the greatest little brother and sister ever i regret everyday for geting involved with the wrong people n loosing Ashleigh she was soo great I wish I could’ve just got one chance to tell her I was sorry n how I felt!! Ashleigh you are greatly missed and always will be Hun!!!

  8. Juan Posted on March 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Hello,

    I read your story. I just wanted to say I am sorry for your loss. You daughter was beautiful. As a recent survivor of a bllod clot and bilateral PE, I only wish she could have been saved. As a husband and father of four I offer you my sincerest of condolences to you and your family.

    Juan

  9. Kara Posted on March 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Hello,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Your story hits home for me because I too have a daughter who is a joy and beautiful person, and I know how devastated I would be if something ever happened to her. I hope by sharing your experience it will help others going through this.

    I too experienced PE’s in 2010. Mine were massive bilateral PE’s taking up over 50% of both lungs. I was 36 at the time, on birth control, and had recently, 2 week prior, took a car trip to Virginia about 8 hours away. I was told months later by my pulmonary doctor that I was lucky to respond to medication at the hospital I went to. If I had not responded to medication, I would have had to travel several hours to Boston or NYC to a hospital that could perform surgery to remove the clots. And I would have died en route.

    I was diagnosed after the PE’s with heterozygous for Factor II and homozygous for MTHFR. I had my children tested and my siblings and parents. My mother is homozygous factor II, and heterozygous MTHFR. My brother is heterozygous for Factor II and same for MTHFR. One of my children is heterozygous for Factor II and the other is homozygous for MTHFR. So we all have to watch out and keep on each other. My mother and I were told we had to be on coumadin for life.

  10. Amanda Posted on March 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Hello I just read about your daughter Ashleigh . I also lost my lovely daughter to a blood clot in her lung in 2005 . She went to hospital after collapsing at home in the evening, they did not know what was wrong with her and she passed away around 2 am . It was not until autopsy that they knew the cause. We were so devastated , asked for answers from the hospital as to why they didn’t help her, or suspect it , after all they are supposedly experts with knowledge. We got no answers just that her fate was sealed even before she went to the hospital. My lovely daughter Yasmin was just 21… She was my treasure and she was taken. I know just how you feel .If you want to chat you can email me . X

  11. Michelle Posted on October 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I am trying to do some research and ran across your page I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your beautiful daughter. I have survived 2 clots a healthy lie at 31 told I have a clotting disorder. Please read my story. Thank you for sharing the knowledge. May your family be blessed.

  12. Beverley Posted on October 25, 2014 at 5:05 am

    This past week my good friend was told she has D.V.T. she is wheel chair bound for life, she was hospitalized for a week, then a DR. came said we are moving you to a hospital that has better surgery teams for putting in filters on both side of groin . THE NEXT day another Dr. came said you can stay on thinners no surgery you can go home, she has not been told anymore. she has had 2 heart attaches, 2 strokes and a stent, bedridden I see trouble ahead what can she do.? My heart goes out to you I don’t want to see my friends kids suffer, confused.

  13. Emily Posted on October 28, 2014 at 9:38 am

    My daughter died 27 August 2014 blood clot through heart had tonsillitis infection she 33 years of age my only daughter miss her so it hurts.

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