In Memory of Katie M. Projansky

Categories: Patient Stories

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If you are pregnant, you ARE at risk for DVT.

KatHear Katie’s Voice; spread hope and increase awareness about DVT/PE in pregnancy. is dedicated to the memory of Katie M. Projansky (Anderson) and the promise of preventing DVT/PE related deaths in pregnancy. Katie’s Voice is an example of how the seeds of personal tragedy can blossom into great hope and possibility.

It was five years ago on June 7, 2009 that my younger sister Katie, a vibrant, 36 year old woman who was 7 weeks pregnant passed away from DVT/PE.

I remember that Sunday afternoon like it was yesterday. I had just arrived home from grocery shopping and was putting things away when my phone started to ring. I had missed the call and noticed that it was my younger sister. Almost immediately my phone started ringing again and I noticed it was my mom calling. Have you ever had a feeling that something terrible is about to happen? Before I even picked up the phone to talk with my mom, I knew something was terribly wrong. I only remember the first sentence or two of that conversation with her… everything else that followed was and still is a blur.

For at least two years prior to Katie’s passing, I can remember several occasions when she and I were spending time together and Katie felt short of breath. Of course, like many of us, Katie attributed her shortness of breath to being “out of shape” and assuming that when she lost weight her breathing would improve. Instead, a vicious cycle ensued; Katie wanted to lose weight but was limited in her activity by her shortness breath.

In February, 2009, Katie was evaluated by a physician who thought she might have sleep apnea. Katie also saw a cardiologist because it was thought she might have had a hole in her heart. I remember this because I was worried about her and drove to Illinois on the day she was going in for her testing. The test results were unremarkable.

get-attachment-1.aspxFast forward to the beginning of May, 2009 when Katie started to have unbearable pain in her calves and thighs. The pain was so severe that she could barely walk and she could not sleep. She went to a doctor on May 9th and saw a physician’s assistant who sent her home and told her to take 2 Ibuprofen 4 times a day. She received no relief from the pain. One week later on May 16th, Katie and her husband went back to the doctor who thought she was either experiencing Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome or a Vitamin B12 deficiency. On that same day Katie found out that she was pregnant. This particular day, May 16th, I remember well. I had just called her while she was on her way home from the doctor’s office with her husband. I asked her if they knew what was causing the pain in her legs, and she said she was told, “I do not know what is wrong with your legs, but you are pregnant!!”

Knowing what I know now, Katie should have immediately had an ultrasound of her legs to evaluate her pain as pregnancy increases a woman’s risk for blood clots and leg pain is one of the most common symptoms of having a blood clot. The next few weeks did not bring any relief and she continued to suffer. My sister was told to take Ibuprofen, sit on a heating pad, soak in a warm tub, and so on… Some other things happened the next few weeks with the pregnancy that took her mind off of the pain that she was experiencing. Katie’s husband was not sure if the pain was gone or just masked by their concern for a miscarriage. They found out on June 4th that they did not lose the pregnancy. The next night the pain returned just as strong as it originally was. On Sunday, June 7th, Katie was taking a shower when the PE hit her lungs. It was only an hour from the time Katie cried out in pain until the ambulance took her to the ER where she was pronounced dead by the ER doctor.

Katie’s wake was a blur to me… I went through the motions. I do not remember the conversations I had or most of the people who attended the wake and were so kind and supportive to be there for my family in our time of need. But one statement did stick with me. Someone walked up to me while the wake was going on and said to me that my grandmother may have passed from the same thing years ago. My mind was spinning, and all I kept thinking was could Katie’s condition have been hereditary?

It is chillingly real when you realize how your world can change in an instant. Everything you value, know and love can be lost in a moment. As soon as I arrived back home to MO a week after Katie’s death, I started looking up everything I could find regarding DVT/PE. I also learned that DVT/PE had affected three generations of my family.

I asked all of my siblings to go get tested for a blood clotting disorder and they did. May I just say that Katie may have just saved two of her other family members.

So here is what drives me to do Katie’s Voice…it is my passion, it is my love and the memories I have of my sister, that gives me a sense of peace as I feel Katie’s voice will be heard to make sure all women know about the risks of DVT/PE in pregnancy.

I will never forget that morning after mass, standing there in front of the church in the rain, holding one red rose and watching my sister being driven away in a hearse.

Please, talk with all your family members and share your medical history with one another. My grandmother and my sister’s death certificates were identical. This conversation can truly save your life or the life of a loved one.

Through sharing stories of personal struggle and triumph and providing information about the causes, risks and DVT prevention, we can stop DVT/PE from taking the lives of women who are pregnant.

Author: admin

8 Responses to "In Memory of Katie M. Projansky"

  1. Mary Brewer
    Mary Brewer Posted on October 25, 2014 at 4:26 am

    I read this story about Katie, and was so touched and saddened by your loss. Not only did you lose a daughter, and a friend, but a baby as well. This is devastating to anyone that loses a child. She is very beautiful, and I can see a real brightness in her smile. It seems many things were overlooked by physicians. The fact that she had this pain in her Chest, Shortness of breath, and Leg pains, were enough to have done something. Clots can stay in one place for some time, until they break off, esp. in the leg.
    I too, had a serious PE. Went at least a month with DVT in left leg, and had no symptoms. It was 2011. I walk, so I am use to aches and pains. But this one Sunday, I got so short of breath and exhausted. I could not think right. This came on suddenly! I stayed in church the whole time, not realizing what was happening. After church was over, I was taken to ER close by and sent directly to Trauma. Ct showed multiple clots in both lungs, and a big one in the center of my chest. It was one of the worst a person could have, and the Staff said it was a miracle I was alive!! I was one of the fortunate ones, But there has been thousands that haven’t been. I am on Coumadin for life, and still check my INR weekly. My body makes clots, so I take a change each day. But, in spite of this, it has made me appreciate Life, and how God did save me that day, I know this is very hard for you and will be for a long time. I will be thinking of Katie and your family. May one day, you have peace to go on and help others with her story and your loss. Mary Brewer

  2. charity
    charity Posted on November 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I had a blood clot form in my brain 4 years ago.. Its been a crazy ride and I find that 90% of the time I am telling a doctor what I need rather then them telling me… Its SO important to be informed. You have to be in the know. Doctors these days seem to take the fastest way to move on to the next person. Of course one thing we can do to help is stop going to the ER if its not an emergency. We are crowding beds and not giving doctors the time to really spend digging into things.
    know your risk..
    Through stories like this you help so many other beautiful young women.. It may not bring your sister physically back to you but it sure keeps her memory alive in a wonderful way.. I can’t imagine how many moms you are helping.

  3. denise
    denise Posted on November 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I had horrible leg pain during pregnancy and could barely walk. I was told it was normal. After her birth I kept waking up at night becausr I couldnt breathe. I thought it was my asthma. Five months later on mothers day I almost passed out in the mall. I went to the er and found out both my lower lungs were filled with clots. I was in the hospital for a week and bedrest for five months. I am now on coumadin for life. Drs need to take patient complaints more seriously

  4. Ashley
    Ashley Posted on November 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Reading this hits home to me because this really could have been me. I was having slight out of breath problems and pain in my foot. Told it was plantar facilitis and from one dr told to suck it up. Over a month before I went to ER due to the pain and not able to walk anymore. It was dvt and pe… Meds,hospital stay, and surgeries later I was home. Four weeks later I discovered I was pregnant the whole time and was at that point 15 weeks. Every day I wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t gone in. I didn’t know I was pregnant but from timeline I got blood clots around four weeks pregnant and went into hospital at 8 weeks

    Thank you for sharing your sisters story and I am sorry for your loss. I too hope more people learn about blood clots and what to look for in signs.

  5. Cassie
    Cassie Posted on November 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. What a very preventable tragedy. I also have a blood clotting disorder. I was diagnosed after my son almost died in utero at 29w. His placenta had stopped functioning due to multiple clots. I have a pregnancy support group for women with blood clotting disorders because it is my passion that women deserve education about these disorders and no mother or baby should suffer due to negligence. Please feel free to message me if you like. Again I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and your niece or nephew.

  6. Sarah
    Sarah Posted on November 10, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Im so sorry for your loss, being a dvt survivor myself Im always advising others to be checked and if something does not feel right its most likely because it is not. I was lucky to catch my blood clot and start my meds. I was tested and they found that i have a genetic blood disorder MTHFR. It can cause blood clots. My prayers are with you an your family. May your sister rest peacefully.

  7. Cindy
    Cindy Posted on November 11, 2014 at 3:09 am

    Wow im so moved and touched by your sisters story its like a reflection on my story during mY pregnancy around 4 months pregnant my right leg started hurting and it will swell up it got to the point that i had to limp because of the pain in my leg it would radiate all the way to my spine i had that all thru out my whole pregnancy and my ob gyn said the baby was just probably laying on a nerve so i really ddnt think much of it hey a doctor was saying i was fibe so i took it as that plus i have to history of blood clots in my family so right after i delivered i had a severe hemorrage almost lost my life i had a huge clot sitting in my uterus i had to get a d&c to get that cleared then jan of this year i had to get a ct scan turned out i had a dvt so now all the pain and swelling thru out the pregnancy made sense and to make things worse i was put on warfarin hoping that will take care of my life unfortunatly april 2014 the clot went into my lung its was traumatic thinking i could of left my bb girl of months and my 3 yr old with out a mom its now nov n im off the warfarin just hoping and praying i never get a clot again.. Im so sorry for your lost but its true women need ti know about dvt/pe during pregnancy since the symptoms mimic many symptoms to other things

  8. Amanda
    Amanda Posted on November 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

    This story really hit home with me. Thank you for telling her story. I had my PE 4 days after my daughter was born. The doctors noticed the swelling but acted nonchalant about it. I have told a few women to in order to bring awareness to “listen to your body.”