For Maria and her unborn baby, time was critical


When your rescue helicopter is tasked to a mission, it’s because it is the fastest, best and in many cases, the only option, and for Maria and her unborn baby time was critical. 

For mum Maria Nally, being diagnosed with HELLP syndrome in the final hours of her pregnancy all came as a shock.  Speaking with Maria, she still gets tears in her eyes thinking about the events that played out in June last year.  

“I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, which is a complication of pregnancy; the acronym stands for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet count.  It can come on quickly without much warning and begins in the later stages of pregnancy or soon after childbirth.”  

“I didn’t know I had it until my waters broke, I didn’t go into labour and I went into Tauranga Hospital for an induction and routine blood tests.” 

Blood tests confirmed that Maria’s liver function was “through the roof” and her platelet count was dangerously low. 

“I didn’t realise how serious the condition was until I was told the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter was on the way over from Waikato Hospital to collect me and my unborn baby.”    

Maria and her baby were in urgent need of multiple platelet transfusions to stabilise them both.    

Maria was immediately given a platelet transfusion, but the Tauranga Haematology Department confirmed that it didn’t have a sufficient amount in Tauranga for Maria’s dangerous condition. 

With everything happening so quickly, Maria and her midwife were soon in the air and quickly transported by rescue helicopter to Waikato Hospital, where more platelet transfusions had been prepared for Maria’s arrival.  

With HELLP, prompt treatment and delivery of the baby are generally required for the best outcome, however, with the risk of excessive bleeding the doctors had to decide on the best course of action.  

“I underwent an emergency Caesarian at Waikato and stayed in the High Dependency Unit for three days until mine and baby Aoife's condition was stable enough to be transferred back to Tauranga. I was told after Aoife was born that she had dropped her growth significantly and I was incredibly lucky it was not a stillbirth.” 

Both Mum and baby are now happy and healthy after the experience.

"You guys saved our lives. Looking back, it makes me incredibly emotional thinking about it all and what saviours you all were to us, and how lucky we were. So thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”