Giving birth saved mum’s life after it lead to liver condition diagnosis
A woman believes giving birth to twins helped save her life after it lead to the diagnosis of a mystery illness that caused her skin to "rot" and left her days from death.
Jennifer French, 38, a dance teacher from LLechryd, Wales, found out she had severe liver failure shortly after welcoming twins, Rupert and Molly, her second set of naturally conceived twins, after suffering years of agonising symptoms.
The mum-of-five first noticed her skin turning black in March 2017 and began suffering from chilblains - a small, itching swelling on the skin that occurs as a reaction to cold temperatures.
Even the slightest breeze on her skin left her in so much pain she was "unable to walk", but doctors struggled to find the cause of her symptoms.
French's health continued to deteriorate after the arrival of the twins, born prematurely after she began to bleed while driving.
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After the traumatic birth French decided to get the contraceptive injection but shortly after was rushed to Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, Wales, when her stomach swelled up with six-and-a-half litres of fluid.
Doctors discovered two blood clots on her liver - one newer and one that had been there for years.
She was diagnosed with Budd-Chiari syndrome (BCS) – a liver condition where the blood vessels become narrow and blocked.
French was fitted with a stent in her liver to help blood flow and is finally able to enjoy time with her kids now she's living pain-free.
“In a funny way, having my second twins saved my life," French says.
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Deciding she didn't want any more children after the arrival of the twins, French believes her decision to have the contraceptive injection led to her diagnosis.
"I suffered for years - my fingers and toes were turning black like my skin was rotting," she explains.
"I finally found out my liver was failing, and I could have died at any time."
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French first started experiencing symptoms after the arrival of her son, Joel, now five, in March 2017.
She noticed the skin under her fingers and toes turning black and developed constant chilblains.
She also experienced breathlessness, swelling in her legs, weight loss, and noticed a yellow-tinge to her skin.
“The nerve pain I got from the chilblains was so bad all year round," she explains.
“I dressed like an Eskimo in the height of summer and could only do 10 minutes outside at most.
“I also got random shooting pains while at rest.
“I couldn’t lay down flat and ended up sleeping upright on the sofa for the next two years.”
Despite various visits to her GP, doctors couldn't seem to find the cause and her symptoms were put down to bad circulation.
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In November 2020, French and her partner, Matthew, 39, found they were expecting their second set of naturally conceived twins, following Aerona and Salvador, now 11.
Her pregnancy went well until French was forced to make an emergency stop in the car at 28 weeks.
The sudden stop caused her to haemorrhage after internally pulling one of the umbilical cords.
She was rushed for an emergency C-Section and welcomed Rupert and Molly on 3rd March 2021, weighing 2lb 10oz and 2lb 2oz respectively.
Despite being premature, after 12 weeks on the neonatal ward, the twins were able to go home together.
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Still suffering her mystery symptoms, French got the contraceptive injection in June 2020, which eventually led to doctors diagnosing her condition.
“After the injection, I swelled up with fluid and I looked like I was nine months pregnant again," she says.
“After lots of tests doctors discovered I had a two-blood clots on my liver.
After the traumatic birth French decided to get the contraceptive injection but shortly after was rushed to Glangwili Hospital, Carmathen, Wales, when her stomach swelled up with six-and-a-half litres of fluid.
French hopes that by sharing her experience she will help raise awareness about the signs of liver failure.
"Hopefully I can help other people spot the signs of liver failure and get themselves checked out," she says.
"I can't thank the doctors and surgeons enough - it was a long-road but we finally got there.
"My kids have spent most of their life seeing me in pain and discomfort.
"But this is the first year they get to have a happy, healthy mum."
Additional reporting SWNS.