AUSTIN - A San Antonio pastor is asking for prayers as his wife and daughter fight to stay alive.
The two are suffering from HELLP syndrome. It's a rare, life threatening pregnancy complication, often associated with high blood pressure.
The story has received hundreds of shares and comments, including comments from two Central Texas women who survived the syndrome.
Leah Bahrencu said for a week and a half she was in a coma at the hospital.
"My kidneys and my lungs started crashing, along with my liver,” Bahrencu said.
The Austin mom had just given birth to twins after an emergency C-section. Her two babies were recovering in the NICU as she lay in bed.
It was not until woke up that she found out she and her babies had been diagnosed with the HELLP syndrome.
"Being told you might have to say your final goodbyes,” said Bahrencu. “Let's see how she does."
Across town, Amanda Painter of Round Rock has a similar story. She, too, had an emergency C-section. Hers was at 32 weeks. She did not find out about the syndrome until after she had given birth.
"My husband forced me to go to the hospital,” said Painter. “I didn't think anything was wrong. I just didn't feel well. But he could tell something was wrong. So he rushed me to the hospital … I had kidney failure, liver failure.
Doctors say the syndrome often stems from pre-eclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure.
HELLP stands for:
H — Hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells.
EL – Elevated liver enzymes
LP – Low platelet count
"As far as symptoms, women will often say I just don't feel good,” said Dr. Catherine Browne, with Capital OB/GYN Associates. "Maybe she feels super nauseated. Maybe some vomiting going with that."
Other symptoms include blurry vision, quick weight gain or swelling and headaches.
But the syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. And life after you've survived it – can be even harder.
Painter said she does not plan on getting pregnant again.
And Bahrencu said she has chronic pancreatitis, along with Type 1 diabetes.
"It's a journey, we're still going through it,” said Bahrencu.
Doctors are not exactly sure what causes the HELLP syndrome. But they tell expectant mothers to make sure to attend all prenatal appointments.
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