Kathryn Whitmer tragically died at the age of 31 on June 8, 2018. She suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke late in pregnancy, gave birth to triplets, deteriorated into a coma, and was declared brain dead. The father, Charlie, spent his first Father’s day in the NICU with his three premature babies a day after their mother suddenly died.
The couple planned to have children, but the narcotics Charlie was taking for his condition meant they had to use virility treatments. Kathyrn gave Charlie the good news the day after Christmas in 2017-they were pregnant, and not with just one baby, with three!
Multiple pregnancies are common after potency treatment but doctors usually recommend fetus reduction to reduce the risk to the mother and increase the odds of live full-term birth, but the couple decided to have all three babies and were delighted at the thought of being parents to triplets.
All went well until 27 weeks and 6 days into the pregnancy. Kathryn developed a severe headache and went to hospital. Charlie recalls being in the waiting room and having someone come out and say “Your wife has a big bleed in her brain“. Strokes in young women are rare, but pregnancy essentially increases the risk of having a stroke.
Kathryn was treated and seemed to be stable until her water broke and the very premature babies had to be delivered by cesarian section. They were rushed to the NICU. Two days later Kathryn developed severe headaches and was declared near brain death. According to the Chicago Tribune, the babies were allowed to visit their unconscious mother and doctors were surprised to see tears rolling down her face when it was time for the babies to return to the NICU.
“I can’t explain that medically,” said Dr. Kim, who was Kathryn’s neurologist at the time told the outlet.
All three babies are doing well and are being raised by Charlie. They celebrate the very anniversary of the babies’ birth and Kathryn’s death each year. Charlie recalls “She wasn’t happy unless the people around her were happy” so he and the children are doing their best to carry on with the task of being as happy as possible. Kathryn saved five strangers’ lives through donated organs.