Norman Regional Health System

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a rare and potentially life-threatening obstetric emergency that can take a heavy toll on labor and delivery nurses. As healthcare professionals, they are well-versed in handling various complications that can arise during childbirth. However, AFE presents a unique challenge due to its sudden onset and often severe consequences. One of the most effective ways we can do our part to support both the nurses and patients who treat and experience AFE is to donate blood as nearly all women who experience AFE require significant amounts of donated blood.

Understanding Amniotic Fluid Embolism

AFE occurs when amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair, or other debris enters the mother's bloodstream, triggering a severe allergic-like reaction. This can lead to a series of severe complications, including cardiovascular collapse, respiratory failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), and even death. AFE affects approximately 1 in 40,000 deliveries in the United States, with a mortality rate of 11-40%.

The Emotional and Physical Toll on Labor and Delivery Nurses

AFE can be taxing for labor and delivery nurses on multiple levels. The sudden onset and rapid deterioration of the patient's condition require nurses to act quickly and effectively to provide critical care. This can be emotionally and physically draining, especially when dealing with a rare and unpredictable condition like AFE.

Witnessing the impact of AFE on families and experiencing the loss of a patient can take a heavy emotional toll on nurses. They must not only process their own emotions but also support grieving families in their time of need.

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The Importance of Blood Donations in AFE Management

One of the most critical aspects of managing AFE is addressing the excessive bleeding that often develops as a result of the condition. DIC, a complication of AFE, can lead to excessive bleeding and ultimately organ failure. Therefore, having access to sufficient blood supplies is essential in the management of AFE and improving patient outcomes.

Patients experiencing AFE often require massive transfusions, which can deplete hospital blood supplies. This underscores the importance of blood donations for labor and delivery departments. By donating blood, you can directly contribute to saving lives and providing vital support to labor and delivery nurses in their fight against AFE and its complications.

Blood donations can be lifesaving in many other obstetric emergencies, such as postpartum hemorrhage or placental complications, which can also require blood transfusions. As such, blood donations play an essential role in ensuring the safety of mothers and their newborns, as well as support for our labor and delivery nurses.

Join us in the Fight Against AFE

Now that you understand the critical role blood donations can play in supporting both our labor and delivery nurses and their patients, we encourage you to take the next step and find a blood drive near you.

Norman Regional has three upcoming blood drives across three campuses. Click the campus nearest to you below to schedule your appointment:

Norman Regional HealthPlex:

Norman Regional Porter:

Norman Regional Nine: