Local parents battle preeclampsia after tragic loss

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Local parents battle preeclampsia after tragic loss. Ali Gorman reports during Action News at Noon on May 5, 2017. (WPVI)

A local couple is sharing their story to raise awareness about preeclampsia, a life-threatening disorder that can happen during or after pregnancy.

It puts both the mother and baby in danger.

Little Paul Pappas will be four months old this week. His parents are overjoyed, but his arrival was bittersweet.

Paul is Clement and Lauren's second son. Their first, Peter, only survived six days.

He had to be delivered early, at 29 weeks, weighing just two pounds, one ounce.

"It was sad to see him so little, it was very sad to know he couldn't breathe on his own," said Lauren.

Lauren was healthy carrying Peter, up until about 28 weeks, when she started having severe pain.

"I felt like sharp stabbing pain in my upper abdomen," she said.

Lab tests revealed she had preeclampsia. It's a life-threatening disorder that affects the mother and unborn baby.

Lauren's case was extreme: they were told her organs were shutting down. The only treatment was to deliver Peter via emergency C-section under general anesthesia.

"I remember sitting in the waiting room, thinking I don't know what's coming out of the O.R.," said Clement. "It was very, very scary."

Lauren slowly recovered, but Peter caught an infection and was too small to fight it.

But now, the couple is turning a negative into a positive. They've teamed up with the Promise Walk to raise awareness about preeclampsia.

"We have good health insurance, Lauren is a nurse and we barely caught this in time," said Clement.

They've also created a foundation to advance research, which lags way behind. The Pappas' goal is to end premature births due to preeclampsia by 2050.

In the meantime, they're also celebrating all of Paul's happy moments.

"He's an amazing joy, adorable and I love him to death."

For more information:

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia:
Preeclampsia.org

Join the Promise Walk for preeclampsia this Saturday:

PromiseWalk.org

More on Clement and Lauren's work to advance preeclampsia research:
Preeclampsia.org

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