Fighting for 2 lives

Cold symptoms turn into coma nightmare for pregnant woman

For nearly a month, Des Allemands resident Kristy Dufrene-McCully has been in an induced, paralyzing coma as a result of a respiratory disease. With doctors giving her less than a 50 percent chance of survival, the 25-year-old is fighting for both her and her baby’s life.

At 17 weeks pregnant, Dufrene-McCully has entered her second trimester. While most mothers spend that time relaxing, she spent it being airlifted by helicopter from Raceland and flown to Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.

“It all started with what Kristy thought was a cold,” said family friend Allison Ford. “One day she was perfectly healthy and the next day she was in ICU hooked to a breathing ventilator.”

Originally, Dufrene-McCully displayed the usual symptoms of bacterial pneumonia attacking her lungs – coughing, fever, shortness of breath and chest pain. But because her vital signs remained below normal levels, doctors induced a coma and decided against a lung biopsy, concluding that the 25-year-old was too weak to go through that operation.

Next came the second diagnosis – acute respiratory distress syndrome, medically known as ARDS.

“ARDS is also a lung condition that shares similar symptoms with bacterial pneumonia,” Ford said. “They put her in a paralyzed state because every time she moved her organ stats would plummet.”

The disease is an acute, severe injury to most or all of both lungs. Patients with ARDS experience extreme shortness of breath and often require life support because of respiratory failure.

Yet, what complicates the situation even further is that Dufrene-McCully is still carrying her first child.
“Kristy getting pregnant was a miracle in itself,” added Ford. “She always experienced female medical problems and was actually scheduled to have a hysterectomy.

“But there was a problem with her insurance and the surgery was postponed. The next week she found out that she was pregnant.”

While saving any life is a top priority for a physician, Dufrene-McCully’s doctors are focused on doing everything they can to help her survive.

“At only 17-weeks-old, the baby wouldn’t survive if it was born so premature,”  Ford said. “The doctors say that the baby will live only if Kristy lives.”

And things are starting to look up – slowly, but surely.
Despite discovering a hole in one of her lungs, Dufrene-McCully’s doctors say that she is improving at a steady rate.

Ventilation support has been reduced from 100 percent to only being used 60 percent of the time, and Dufrene-McCully is no longer being administered antibiotics.

Ultrasounds also indicate that the baby’s heartbeat is normal and the baby appears to have lots of movement.
But both are still in critical condition.

“We’re all praying, both family and friends, that Kristy pulls through,” Ford said. “It was such a shock and we’re all trying to deal with it the best way that we can.

“We can’t lose her. She is loved by so many.”

A benefit to help with medical expenses is planned for Dufrene-McCully on Aug. 22 at 4 p.m. at Coconutty’s Hut in Des Allemands.

Fried fish, jambalaya and white beans plate lunches will be sold in addition to a parade-of-prizes raffle.

Items include a six-person airboat tour, a chartered fishing trip, a four-man kayak tour and crates of crabs in addition to several gift certificates.

To make a donation or for more information regarding the Dufrene-McCully benefit, contact Ford at 985-859-5164.

 

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