'I almost lost my life': Sask. woman recounts ectopic pregnancy experience
SASKATOON -- A Dundurn, Sask. woman wants to see changes after she says a potentially life-threatening pregnancy complication was missed by multiple health-care professionals.
On Jan. 14, the day of her first scheduled scan at Stonebridge Ultrasound Centre in Saskatoon, Emily Mills says her radiologist wasn't able to find her baby in her uterus — and wouldn’t provide any further information.
She was told to see her family doctor as soon as possible to go over the results and to seek urgent care in the event she experienced pain.
"That night I was feeling really uneasy and upset about what happened because I just knew something wasn't right," Mills said.
At the time of her ultrasound, Mills would have been seven and a half weeks pregnant.
Looking for answers, Mills turned to Google and pregnancy Facebook groups to find out more information on what could be wrong.
She began to suspect she was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy — a condition where a fertilized egg implants someplace other than the uterus.
The next day, the mother of two spoke on the phone with a doctor who looked over her scans.
She says he told her it didn't look like it would be a viable pregnancy and only advised her to go to the ER if she started to bleed or if cramps became "unbearable."
"He should have known better than that with an ectopic, the bleeding is internal and by the time you're in unbearable pain, it's too late," Mills said.
It was during the phone call Mills says she started to experience mild cramping. After she hung up, Mills' cramps felt even sharper.
She called her friend to come take care of her two daughters as she was starting to lose consciousness but managed to call 911.
A Dundurn emergency volunteer crew showed up and rushed her to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.
When she arrived Mills explained she believed she was suffering from an ectopic rupture and was rushed into surgery.
Mills was right. Her left fallopian tube had ruptured — less than 24 hours after her ultrasound appointment.
"I just remember them saying that was a really close call, you almost didn't make it and if you were just a few moments later we wouldn't have been able to save you,” Mills said.
Mills said she received her ultrasound results several days after her surgery, showing possible signs of an ectopic pregnancy.
According to the ultrasound centre, the results were forwarded to her doctor the day of Mills' scan.
Now on bed rest and slowly recovering from surgery and major blood loss, Mills is adamant that the ultrasound centre could have done more to provide "clear answers" early on.
"If something isn’t right, something needs to be said at the time of the ultrasound," Mills said.
"They should have said 'Could we get you lay back down? We’re going to have a second look.'"
In an interview with CTV News, a spokesperson for Saskatoon Medical Imaging (SMI) which operates Stonebridge Ultrasound Centre, said it was not possible to determine if Mills' pregnancy "was ectopic, an early pregnancy, or a miscarried situation" because imaging alone often cannot be definitive at that point in time.
The radiologist "did not deem her situation to be urgent as she was experiencing no pain at the time, and did not want to make a call to terminate a viable pregnancy, " SMI told CTV News in an email.
There is no policy in Saskatchewan that prevents ultrasound facilities from providing information to patients.
Mills’ radiologist also spoke with CTV News.
He said that ultrasound clinics provide information to patients on "a case by case basis" and is not always possible due to "time constraints."
"It makes us rush to give a conclusion that may be erroneous,” he said.
Mills, who recently turned 28, also hopes other women will learn from her story.
"I never experienced excruciating pain until they moved my body onto the operating table. All I felt was moderate cramping, sore chest and shoulders and very weak and faint," Mills said.
She wants other women to know if something doesn't feel right, speak up and always push for better communication.
"I hope that my near-death experience, that in my opinion was preventable, never has to happen to anyone else.”
She's also asking people to consider donating blood because she required multiple transfusions in order to save her life.
A GoFundMe page has been started to help Mills' family while she recovers.