Jessica Phillips DVT/PE Blood Clot Survival Story

Categories: News,Patient Stories

The personal story below is intended for informational purposes only. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) holds the rights to all content that appears on its website. The use by another organization or online group of any content on NBCA’s website, including patient stories that appear here, does not imply that NBCA is connected to these other organizations or groups or condones or endorses their work. Please contact with questions about this matter.

Jessica PhillipsJessica Phillips survived a life-threatening PE right after giving birth to her fourth child.  Her DVT symptoms were overlooked and a massive PE ensued, so her OB doctor introduced many changes in her practice to prevent DVT and PE after Jessica’s near death.

On October 29 2010, I gave birth by C-section to my fourth beautiful child and second son, William Stone. The nurses quickly encouraged me to walk around, which I did willingly, since I was eager to return home to my husband and three other children. I mentioned that my left leg hurt to several of the nurses.  My leg was visibly swollen, hot, and red, in my left inner thigh. The OB suspected superficial thrombophlebitis, and results of a Doppler scan were negative for any deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  I was discharged the next day.

The doctor told me I had a superficial thrombophlebitis, and told me to go home and enjoy my baby.  She advised me to elevate my leg periodically, get some rest and continue the low molecular weight heparin injections for 2 more weeks.  I was on the dosage to prevent clots during my entire pregnancy, as well as my previous pregnancy, because 3 years before, it was found that I have a prothrombin 20210 gene mutation (factor II). I was not given any other special instructions or warnings, even though there was still a hot, red and swollen area in my left thigh.

I went home with my new son, and felt overjoyed and ready to meet a house full of family, my other three children, and friends.  I was exhausted post-delivery, but unconcerned about my leg, because I was told it was nothing to worry about. I continued to feel discomfort in my leg, but I didn’t notice any increase in pain or swelling.  I continued to take low molecular weight heparin injections as instructed. Life was good. Our family now felt complete and we all smiled about our future; our oldest was soon to turn six years old.

One week after discharge, I climbed back into bed after I finished feeding my 9 day old son.  Suddenly I could not breathe. It was as if a ton of bricks was thrown on my chest. I grabbed my husband’s arm and told him to call 911 right away. I thought I was dying. As my husband recalls, my lips, neck, chest, and fingernails were blue and my eyes looked as if they were somewhere else, and my skin was pale and clammy. He said I looked like death.

The ambulance arrived within minutes, put me on oxygen immediately and whisked me to the closest Emergency Room (ER) where a CAT scan revealed massive pulmonary emboli (PE) in both of my lungs. A pulmonary intensive care doctor was called to attend to me.  My husband was informed that my PEs were the largest they had ever seen and that I was in a critical life-threatening situation, and I have vivid memories of the nurses rushing me to the intensive care unit (ICU).  The CAT scan also revealed my left leg had two completely clotted veins in my left leg, the same area that was hot, red, painful, and swollen since childbirth.

I knew that I was fighting for my life with every breath, and I was told to lie as still as I could as I struggled to find air to breathe.  I was given a full therapeutic dose of heparin, and focused on each in breath and out breath, as I silently repeated the names of my husband and four children over and over.  I found myself pleading in prayer to give me enough breath to live.

My husband describes the next few hours as one of patience, prayer and petition that something would relieve the clotting.  I was too critical for any invasive measures or placement of a filter to prevent more clots from entering my lungs. The last resort for my life was tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) if I went into shock and crashed as a last silver bullet to save me.  What started as a ton of bricks on my chest at 6:00 AM turned into full blown pulmonary shock at 2:15 PM, and felt like my life was seeping out of the bottom of my feet.  As the last resort to save my life, my doctor administered tPA, even though it carried extremely high risks of internal bleeding due to my C-section nine days prior.  My husband, my family, and my friends, waited for hours outside the ICU doors to find out if they would ever see my smile again. Our children were innocently unaware that their Mommy might never kiss them again.

The silver bullet and many prayers worked. I’m a 34 year old proud mother of 4, and thrilled and grateful to be alive.

The doctors at the hospital where I had my baby did not pick up on the classic symptoms of DVT that were apparent right after I gave birth.  Instead, they relied strictly on the technology of a single Doppler reading rather than on clinical findings. Simply put, they missed it. I was sent home despite my pre-existing blood clotting disorder known to this OB practice as well as my hematologist. I was also at risk because of the C-section and the fact that it happened during the first six weeks after childbirth, when clotting is more likely. I was a perfect storm for a potentially fatal outcome.

My doctor admitted that she did not pay sufficient attention to my clinical symptoms and relied instead only on the Doppler results.  She apologized to me, and I accepted.  Her practice has taken my brush with death seriously and she has taken steps to continue promoting awareness and focus on DVT as well as blood clotting disorders as they affect pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.

They now do follow up Doppler scans if the clinical symptoms of DVT persist a day or two after discharge.  I believe that my near death experience has affected my OB greatly, and made her more alert to DVT risk associated with pregnancy and C-section, especially in the presence of a clotting disorder.  The hospital has begun work to improve doctor and patient awareness of DVT/PE and has now added a section about DVT warning signs to their discharge papers for all new mothers. This is a start. There is hope for the future.

DVT and PE are serious. The doctors and nurses involved in my case still cannot believe that I survived.

I see my survival as a miracle. But we cannot always rely on miracles.  Nor do we have to.

I want to help doctors and the public become more aware about risk, treatment and prevention of DVT/PE so that others avoid my experience of being on the brink of death.

This issue is very serious to me.  I have participated in a video for the hospital as well as a commercial for it to share my story and to alert people to DVT and PE risk.  I am including the web site so more people can benefit from the important and essential information included in it on risk, prevention, and treatment of blood clots.

Author: admin

10 Responses to "Jessica Phillips DVT/PE Blood Clot Survival Story"

  1. Hope Smalls
    Hope Smalls Posted on May 5, 2014 at 3:00 am

    I have had several clots.that developed after my c-sections. My first daughter passed away from a blood clot that develop on the placenta.

  2. […] Amee VanTassell, age 36, “tragically died of a blood clot four days after delivering her baby daughter from c-section,” according to Mr. Wong. Several other patients have been similarly impacted by preventable VTE such as Samara McAuliffe, Lisa Boyd, and Jessica Phillips. […]

  3. amy
    amy Posted on May 15, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Hi I am 27 years old currently 36 weeks pregnant on my 3rd child, and have just been diagnosed with a clot in my lung, I am so scared of what’s going to happen in labour and even if I wil survive. Can some one give me some reasurrence? Or explain to me what’s going to happen in labour

  4. Bonnie
    Bonnie Posted on June 29, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Hi I am 35 years old, I had my baby and two weeks after I was having pain by my pelvis on both sides. I saw my Dr and she said it could be a bladder infection, so she had me pee in a cup. When the results came back negative they thought I was just trying to seek pain pills. They told me the Dr would call me back but she didn’t. I ended up with a fever this was 3 weeks after having the baby, went to the hospital, and all they did was a pee test and sent me home with antibiotics. Three days after I was so sick I couldn’t walk, and in back pain. I started having pain in my chest. I thought it was heart pain . I called my ob back and told her that I was getting worst. This was three weeks after having the baby. She finaly told me to go to the hospital to get a scan to see if I had a blood clot. The hospital didn’t think so until they did the scan came back to me gave me very strong meds and admitted me into the hospital. At that point they only thought I had a clot in my pevis. Four days after I told The dr my chest still hurts. He finally game me a scan and saw the clots in my lungs. I was treated in the hospital for 8 days. I am now feeling better im on blood thinners. Its only been two weeks. How long did you have to saty on thinners and did you make a full recovery? This is the most scary thing I have ever been through. I did not think I was going to leave that hospital. It was the fight of my life

  5. Jessica
    Jessica Posted on November 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I had my 4th c-section on October 2nd. I have had an infection around insision almost the whole time and reluctantly I am my 5th round of antibiotics (had bacteria in my blood whole time, no explanation why) I am very concerned about clots this whole time, I woke up 4 days ago and my belly was swollen and red hot (with taking antibiotics or has gone down) but then after a feeding early this morning my left wrist started itching and when I looked down it was swollen too all bizarre like and elevated inside veins, one particularly swollen.I went to sleep a bit worried, of course, and woke up hours later and it was gone. I feel with all I have been through w doctors I cannot trust them anymore. Should I be worried about that being a clot or what? Am very concerned and will be seeing OB tomorrow, however not too trustworthy….

  6. Kristen
    Kristen Posted on April 18, 2015 at 5:16 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. After I had my second son I too developed a blood clot in my leg. I was put on blood thinners and antibiotics. Luckily my clot was contained and I didn’t get PEs. I have an extensive history with vascular problems with one of my legs (same one I got the clot in) and I have had two surgical procedures and still need some more treatments on that leg. Bc of all of this my vascular surgeon and my ob are pretty adamant that I have no more children. I am having a hard time accepting that I can’t have anymore.

  7. Angela Wade
    Angela Wade Posted on November 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I am five months pregnant and also have a factor II gene mutation. I had a stroke six years ago and after time and a lot of hard work I have made a full recovery. I am currently using enoxaprin sodium injections as well as taking aspirin. I am so thankful that you have shared your story. Take care!!

  8. Marangelly
    Marangelly Posted on January 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I have to live with this
    Prothrombin G20210A gene mutation factor II for the rest of my life, nobody’s fault…..
    Thank you for sharing you journey on this ??????

  9. Cera
    Cera Posted on January 16, 2016 at 1:10 am

    I had my third baby in October 2015 via emergency c-section. When I left the hospital my legs were both swollen but the nurses told me it was normal so I didn’t think nothing of it. Two days later the swelling went down in my left leg and my right was still swollen and hurting. A week after I had my son I got to where it was hard to breath and every time I would walk I felt like I was going to pass out. I finally went to the ER on halloween got a cat scan and seen that I had a blood clot in each lung. I was put in ICU and two days later they did an ultrasound on my right leg and found out I had a clot in my leg also. I was on complete bed rest and finally got moved to a different room, in November ibwas about to go to sleep (while still in the hospital) had a bad tooth ache they have me Tylenol for it I finally went to sleep woke up and my eye was swollen shut. I ended up with a clot behind my eye and I’m blind in that eye now. I was transferred to a different hospital, after a couple of weeks being there all my Dr’s finally agreed to put a filter in after being on bed rest for 4 weeks straight it felt so good to walk again but I was so light headed and dizzy and after the filter was put in I started losing blood and lots of it. I was passing literally softball size blood clots. I had to be put back in ICU had a blood transfusion started feeling better got switched to a different room again and ended up two days later having another transfusion I was in the hospital for over month. Then a month later intended up with a infection in the leg with the DVT and was put back in the hospital.

    • Maria
      Maria Posted on February 19, 2016 at 8:23 am

      How are you guys doing now? This is so scary. I have one baby, I was frighten to get a clot the entire time after birth, still now 7 months later. I’m paranoid. Hope you guys are home safe with the little ones! ❤️