How a new science saved a local mother’s life after near-death experience

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PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — Three people meet at The Kitchen in Pittsford.

“Last year for my wife’s birthday, I brought her because it’s one of my favorite restaurants,” Dr. Raj Pyne said. “I came here. I did not tell them because I didn’t want to make anything out of it. I had not seen Joe in five years. At one point during the dinner, Chef Joe came out, and he gave me a hug.”

Dr. Pyne is an interventional radiologist at Rochester Regional Health. Joe Cipolla, the Chef of the kitchen, brought out a photo of Aria Cipolla, his five year old daughter. The two men and Pyne’s wife started crying.

“As one father to another, I remember exactly what that would feel like,” Dr. Pyne said. “It was really a magical moment.”

They were remembering the story of Aria’s birth five years ago, and her mother Cristina’s incredible story with Dr. Pyne, and how a new science, interventional radiology, helped save her life.

“This is it, it was very early in the morning, I woke my husband up to take me to the hospital, we were on our way there, I knew it was happening quickly,” Cristina said. “I was having contractions, and he said ‘Mind if we stop and get a cup of coffee?'”

“He pulled himself over and got a cup of coffee at the gas station, which is awesome,” Cristina said. “That’s my favorite part of Aria’s birth story.”

Cristina says the birth went and fine, and “really fast.” It was a natural birth, with an epidural.

“Pretty much picture perfect,” Cristina said. “Shortly after giving birth, I started to not feel right… I started to feel light-headed, just off, like I couldn’t think quite properly, a little bit disconnected, then one of the nurses noticed that I was heavily hemorrhaging.”

The medical team eventually diagnosed that part of her placenta was still attached, and her body was still pumping blood there like there was a baby. Since Aria had already been born, Cristina was hemorrhaging instead. In a quick decision, Cristina’s OB-GYN, calls Dr. Pyne, saying:

“I think you can help save this woman’s life, he dropped everything, on his son’s 1st birthday, while he was at a conference potentially receiving an award, saved the day,” Cristina said of her OB-GYN.

And to make the moment feel more dire, Cristina says she had a dream about bleeding to death after giving birth.

“At this point I started to freak out,” Cristina said.

Joe recalls the harrowing experience before and after, watching his wife bleed to death:

“I’m standing there at the end of the bed with my brand new baby, thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’ I have son at home … What do you do at that moment,” Joe said. “It’s super hard. Just thinking about it. Just, every time I see that guy … He saved our family. He saved my wife, he gave us a new lease on life.”

Before Dr. Pyne arrived, the team was physically trying to remove the placenta from her body. Eventually, Dr. Pyne planned for an “embolization.”

Interventional radiologists use typical radiology imaging – like a CT scan for example – but this new “interventional” field incorporates minimally invasive procedures as well.

“We put a small tube in her groin, and go around to the artery feeding the uterus, and we block off that artery. It’s from the inside, not the outside,” Dr. Pyne said.

Within a few minutes, her heart rate went down, blood pressure went up, and she started to regain conscienceness. And in a few hours, he says she was close to being her normal self.

“It’s amazing how quickly as a healthy young person they can go downhill and come right back up,” Dr. Pyne said.

“All I remember is being in the operating room, and waking up, I remember Dr. Pyne being there,” Cristina said. “I remember music, I could see nurses in the background, but I could see them smiling… I didn’t realize that they were excited because I wasn’t dead.”

“But what I do know is that by the Grace of Gd, my OB knew Dr. Pyne, and had an idea of something that was unconvential, but could potentionally save my life, and it did,” Cristina said.

Now that it’s over, and Aria is a healthy baby girl who has lived five wonderful years, everyone involved has a different takeaway, about delivery a baby:

“Everyone thinks that the hardest part is just getting the baby out, but there are so many things that can happen after,” Cristina said. “It’s changed my life because I’m here… I wouldn’t to have all of these moments every day. It makes those moments all the more special.”

How it changes family and fatherhood:

“It made me realize how important those things are,” Joe said. “He’s developed something that’s life-saving, no matter if it’s one life or a million, the important thing is that he’s there.”

Or some on-the-job perspective:

“As a physician you go through a lot, and you go through a lot of ups and downs, but to see every once in a while, the good that can come out of it, is truly amazing,” Dr. Pyne said.

“I will always have a moment when I had nothing, and that moment was given back to me,” Joe said. “I’m forever grateful.”

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