Summerville man's quick thinking saves wife and unborn daughter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For many couples the thought of not being able to have kids can be hard to live with. One local couple beat the odds. But it just nearly cost them the ultimate price.

"It was complete joy and unbelief that it was happening and we were pregnant we were thrilled," Dena McElveen said.

For nine and a half years, Dena and Michael McElveen tried to start a family even turning to fertility treatments with no success. Finally after her fifth in vitro fertilzation treatment, Dena was finally pregnant.

"I cried a little, he cried a little and we told everyone," Dena said.

"It was a very emotional day very emotional day," Michael said.

Dena went for her first ultrasound and everything looked great to celebrate. The couple went to dinner and it was that night that Dena said something felt terribly wrong

"I told my husband I didn't feel good and I felt like I was going to pass out," Dena said.

Michael wasted no time and rushed Dena to Summerville Medical Center where tests were done along with another ultrasound.

"Seeing her in that condition, we had a suspicion she had a heterotopic pregnancy in addition to the normal pregnancy," Dr. Preston Wendell said.

Meaning Dena had one baby growing in the right place in her uterus while another baby was growing inside her tube. It was causing her tube to rupture, putting both mother and the baby who was inside her uterus in danger and close to death.

"She had a lot of blood in her abdomen and she was very close to those blood vessels so she was very sick," said Dr. Michelle McCusker.

"When they took her back, I knew this was the last time I was going to see my wife and I dropped to my knees praying," said Michael.

Thankfully, the surgery for Dena was successful and in July she had a healthy pregnancy giving birth to 6 pound 13 ounce Addison.

"I was laughing and crying at the same time it was absolute joy," said Dena.

It was only later that the McElveens learned about how common couple's who have used assisted reproduction methods such as in vitro fertilization can experience both a normal and a tubal pregnancy at the same time.

Now Dena and Michael are trying to spread the message.

"At the first sign of pain or cramping get checked," Dena said."Err on the side of caution because it can happen so fast and things can go bad so quickly."

If her husband had not acted fast enough by taking her to the ER she would have died in a matter of hours. Dr. McCusker says Dena was lucky to have made it out okay.

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