Mom Makes Split-Second Decision To Die And Save Unborn Son During C-Section

by Emerald Pellot
Emerald Pellot graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in Writing & Popular Culture. She worked as Senior Editor of College Candy for 2 years, covering feminism, popular culture, and college life before joining LittleThings in 2015. Based in New York City, Emerald covers a wide range of topics from human interest pieces to celebrity news.

It was supposed to be a routine procedure, until Karisa Bugal’s C-section took a terrifying turn. The mother from Colorado was discovered to have a rare condition that affects one in 100,000 deliveries.

Karisa had an amniotic fluid embolism, where the fluids surrounding the baby get into the mother’s blood stream, causing all of the organs to shut down. There is no known way to prevent it. Many mothers do not survive.

Just before Dr. Kelly Gerow discovered Karisa’s condition, doctors noticed her unborn son’s heart rate began to dip. The baby’s life was also at risk.

Karisa had to choose between a cesarean with anesthesia, that could save the baby and kill her, or a cesarean where she was awake, which could save her and kill him.

The mother chose the fastest option — with anesthesia — but it would be the last decision she would make.

“Her other option would have been to stay awake for her surgery, but by the time we would have put in a spinal tap or something it’s possible Declan would not have made it,” Dr. Gerow said.

After surgery, Karisa asked how much her baby boy, Declan, weighed. Then she passed away.

“How do I explain to him that his mom is gone giving birth to him? I think about that all the time,” said her husband, Wes Bugal. “How do I explain when he asks ‘Where’s Mommy?'”

Karisa made the ultimate sacrifice, the kind that not many would make. While Declan may never know her, we can only hope he knows she is a hero.

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