Woman Told Having a Baby Could Kill Her After Suffering From Blood Clots

A 36-year-old woman has discovered that the blood clot she suffered 13 years ago could lead to her death if she gets pregnant.

Robyne Toseland, from Cambridge in eastern England, was 23 when she was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that develops in a blood vessel and travels to the lungs.

Now, doctors have told Toseland that the scarring left by the blood clot could make pregnancy "very dangerous." The news has left the woman and her husband devastated.

"I always assumed I would get married then have kids, but it's very unlikely that me and Carl will be able to have a baby now," she told The Mirror on October 27.

She hopes that discussing her experiences will raise awareness of the devastating effects that blood clots can have on people of any age.

"I just don't want people to go through anything similar," she said. "I'm grateful that I'm still alive, but the blood clots really have destroyed my life in a lot of ways.

"I don't want other people to suffer a similar fate."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 100,000 people die of blood clots each year in the U.S. The CDC adds that pulmonary embolism is a leading cause of death in pregnant women and women who have recently given birth.

Telling her story to mark World Thrombosis Day earlier in October, Toseland recalled discovering the blood clot in 2008, when she began to experience difficulty breathing.

Simply walking down a flight of stairs "felt as though an elephant was sitting on my chest," she explained. "I frantically searched for my asthma inhaler."

After her condition worsened, she was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed with the pulmonary embolism and a massively enlarged heart.

"I was put on blood-thinning medication and was covered in heart monitors. It was a very surreal experience," Toseland said. She was left fighting for her life, while her loved ones were told by doctors to prepare for the worst.

She was treated with warfarin, a blood thinner, and her condition improved. After two weeks in hospital, the clots had reduced to scar tissue.

"When I left hospital, they warned me that it would take a long time to recover, but nothing could prepare me for the reality of that," she said.

"I imagined it would be a couple of months, but my recovery has taken over my whole life ever since."

The scarring on her lungs from the 2008 clot and others she suffered later have left Toseland with serious breathing difficulties.

"The high pressure in my lungs caused by the clots makes pregnancy very dangerous for me, which is absolutely devastating."

She acknowledges that there are other ways of having children, but her health has an effect on these too.

"I'm not eligible to adopt due to my health and surrogacy is very difficult," Toseland said.

"I'm holding out hope that one day the doctors might change their minds on how risky it is for me to get pregnant, but until then, I've just become an aunt to a beautiful little nephew, which is lovely."

Toseland is also unable to work because of the effect the blood clots have had on her body.

She said: "Despite the fact that there have been some really dark days, and times when I don't know if I can find the strength to get through it, I wouldn't change any of it. It's made me the person that I am today; a new and a stronger me."

Newsweek has previously reported that an extremely small number of people have developed blood clots after receiving the COVID vaccine. According to the CDC, there have been 47 confirmed reports of clots in patients who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine—out of a total of 15.3 million J&J doses administered up to October 20.

The CDC recommends "everyone 12 years and older get vaccinated as soon as possible."

woman hospital
Stock image of a woman in a hospital bed. A 36-year-old woman from Cambridge in eastern England has recently discovered that her history of blood clots prevents her from having children. kieferpix/Getty

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts