Teenager recovering after birth control side effect nearly took her life

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Hailey Duncan

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis teenager says her birth control almost killed her before doctors were able to save her life.

Hailey Duncan doesn't remember anything about her first week at Baptist Hospital, but the 18-year-old is thankful she is headed home.

"I'm feeling good today. I'm ready to go and sleep in my own bed," she said. "I don't guess I was ready to go."

Nearly two weeks ago Hailey was rushed to Baptist after she suffered a pulmonary embolism likely caused by birth control pills that blocked off most of the blood flow to her lungs. She went into cardiac arrest several times on the way to the hospital.

She was too ill for surgery and doctors couldn't giver her a clot-busting medicine. Her surgeon says if it hadn't been for an Ecmo machine, which oxygenates a patients blood outside the body and essentially takes over for the heart and lungs, she wouldn't have survived.

"We put one tube in her case in her femoral artery and vein and the unoxygenated blood comes out of the vein, and it goes through the machine and oxygenates it and then pumps it back body," said Dr. Brad Wolf, cardiovascular thoracic surgeon at Baptist.

Doctors say because Hailey is so young, she recovered right away and was off the machine in a couple of days.

She will have to take some time away from college and is now on blood thinners, but says she is starting to feel more like her old self again.

"I think it's one of the better stories, knowing she is going to have a completely normal life now. She no doubt would have died for sure if we hadn't have done this," Wolf said.

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