A Jewish doctor living in Hampstead Garden Suburb has said the Hatzola emergency service saved her life, after she suffered an ectopic pregnancy but was told an ambulance would not be sent.
The 35-year old GP, who does not wish to be named, suddenly suffered “severe abdominal pain” on the morning of Monday 6 March while six weeks pregnant, and called her sister-in-law nearby, who came round and called 999.
“I was very faint due to the hidden blood loss. My sister-in-law explained that I was unwell. I thought this was due to an ectopic pregnancy,” she recalled this week.
She said the Ambulance service advised that she wait two hours to see if it got worse, and to call 111, but they decided to make their way to the hospital, and the pair – by now joined by the woman’s mother – tried to make it down the stairs, where the woman collapsed in pain.
“We reassessed, and at that point my mum remembered she had Hatzola’s number on her phone. She called and they were there in five minutes. They put me on a stretcher and used the blue light to get me to A&E at the Royal Free fast.”
She got there just in the nick of time, and collapsed ten minutes after arriving. She was rushed into emergency surgery. “I’d suffered major internal bleeding, five litres into my pelvis. I needed urgent attention and ended up having six units of blood transfused and a life-saving operation.”
She had suffered an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo attaches outside the uterus. This can be deadly, and is experienced by one in 100 women, with classic signs including sharp abdominal pain. But while most ectopic pregnancies involve the embryo’s implantation in the Fallopian tubes, in one in 100,000 cases, the implantation occurs elsewhere, as was the case here.
This week, the woman was at home recovering, and paid tribute to the speed and professionalism of Hatzola, saying: “If it wasn’t for them, I’d have died at home.”
In circumstances such as hers, she said: “If you can’t get to hospital, and no-one can get you there, what do you do? It’s so important we keep this amazing service we have in our community, because without it you’re just left.”
As a GP, she is well-aware of the pressures on ambulance services and A&E departments, adding: “There’s such a backlog, it means there are less crews mobilised on the streets, able to respond. And that demand is only going to get bigger because of the crisis in the NHS. So the need for a Plan B is obvious.”
Moshe Grosberg, one of the Hatzola volunteers who attended the incident, said: “We pride ourselves on the prompt service we can provide to the community and we are proud that the response provided in this case ensured the best possible outcome for our patient. It’s been rewarding to see her recover from this ordeal and we have since kept in touch.”