On this date in 1996, 21-year-old Carolina Gutierrez lost her battle with post-abortion sepsis.
Just four days earlier, doctors had amputated her gangrenous feet, hoping that this would free up her immune system to battle the infection that had been raging since her abortion on December 19, 1995.
Carolina had been hospitalized since December 21, when her family had called an ambulance in their alarm over her difficulty breathing. Two days of trying to contact Maber Medical Center, where Carolina had undergone the abortion, had yielded no help. The voice mails she left had gone unanswered. When somebody finally did pick up the phone, whoever it was had hung up on her. The young mother, who had no medical insurance, had been suffering from fever and pain since the evening of the 19th.
She had arrived at the emergency room already in septic shock. Doctors had performed an emergency hysterectomy, trying to halt the spread of infection from her perforated uterus, but the sepsis had raged on.
Carolina had spent her 21st birthday as she had spent Christmas and New Year's: on a respirator, sepsis raging through her body. Her two children from a previous relationship, now orphaned, had spent most of their time in the care of relatives as her husband, Jose Linarte, had spent as much time as he could by Carolina's side, waiting and praying.
His prayers, like the doctors' efforts, had ultimately been in vain.
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