Saturday, February 05, 2011

1996: Multiple amputations fail to save young mom

Carolina Gutierrez
Carolina Gutierrez

The tragedy endured by Carolina Gutierrez hung like a pall over Life Dynamics that holiday season of 1995-6. Her family had contacted an attorney while she was hospitalized, and that attorney sought advice from us. Thus we were kept informed, and prayed fervently, though this young mother's fight for her life. No doubt the events of that holiday season continue to hang over the hearts of those who knew and loved her.
Carolina, who had come to the United States as a refugee from Nicaragua at age 13, was 20 years old when she went to Maber Medical Center in Miami for an abortion on December 19, 1995.
Carolina's husband did not want her to have the abortion, so Carolina got a friend to drive her back and forth to the clinic.
The evening after her abortion, Carolina had pain in her chest and abdomen. She called the clinic for help, but whoever answered the phone hung up on her.
Over the next two days, Carolina left messages on the clinic answering machine, but nobody returned her calls.
On December 21st, she could hardly breathe, so her family called 911. She arrived at the emergency room already in septic shock.
Carolina underwent an emergency hysterectomy at the hospital to try to halt the spread of infection from her perforated uterus.
Carolina was put into the intensive care unit, where she battled for her life against the raging sepsis. She was on a respirator, with her fingers and feet going black with gangrene.
Relatives cared for her children, a five-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, while Carolina's husband spent as much time as he could by her side. "I canÂ’'t sleep. I try to take my mind off it, but itÂ’s impossible," he told theMiami Herald.
Carolina's Family
Carolina's Family

Carolina's 21st birthday came and went as she lay in the ICU. Doctors fought to help the young woman to gain enough strength to undergo amputation of her gangrenous limbs. But despite the hysterectomy, the amputations, and all their other efforts, Carolina died on February 5, 1996.
Carolina at her funeral
Carolina at her funeral

While investigating the clinic, officials noted that although Carolina could not read English, her only consent form was in English -- and the line for her signature was blank. She had paid $225 in cash for the abortion that took her legs and her life.

Sources: Miami Herald: "Abortion patient critically ill; state investigates clinic," January 26, 1996; "A tragic consequence," February 9, 1996; "Regulate abortion clinics better," March 1, 1996, "Unsafe but legal," Newark Star-Ledger, March 14, 1996; Legal But Not Safe; Victim of Choice

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