August 22, 2023 – Melbourne, FL –– Preeclampsia survivors and their supporters will hit the pavement with a purpose on Saturday, August 26, as part of the fourth annual Promise Walk Wherever event sponsored by the Preeclampsia Foundation. With every step, participants will make strides and deliver hope by raising awareness and fueling research on preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening hypertensive disorder affecting more than 300,000 pregnancies in the U.S. each year.
Promise Walk Wherever allows participants throughout the country to walk or run at their own pace wherever they want on Saturday. That’s why survivor Jen DiSanza and her husband Raymond lead team “HELLPing Moms” – because preeclampsia nearly took her life.
“I had a mild case of preeclampsia near-term with my first pregnancy, but no one told me that I could be at risk for it in my second pregnancy,” DiSanza explained. “Then during my second pregnancy, a high risk obstetrician explained that they were watching me more closely during my second pregnancy because of that risk.”
DiSanza is not alone – while preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy, is more common in first-time pregnancies, it can happen during any pregnancy. Women who have had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy, who have chronic high blood pressure, or who have a family member who had it, are also at increased risk of developing it. Many members of the Promise Walk Wherever community came to the Preeclampsia Foundation because of their personal experience seeking more information about the condition.
“The Promise Walk is a great opportunity for families affected by preeclampsia and our supporters to connect virtually, especially those who don’t have a local Promise Walk event in their area,” said Preeclampsia Foundation CEO Eleni Z. Tsigas. “The traumatic nature of the preeclampsia experience on moms, their partners, and their families makes the connection, education and community they find here vital to their healing.”
During DiSanza’s second pregnancy, preeclampsia hit much harder and faster. At around 32.5 weeks, she started to experience severe headaches, epigastric pain, and vomiting. A quick check at her hospital’s labor and delivery ward found that her blood pressure was dangerously high – and further tests found that her liver was going into failure from a dangerous variant of preeclampsia called HELLP syndrome.
“The Chief of Obstetrics came in and told me I was her patient now, due to how severely sick I was,” said DiSanza. “They told my husband that our chances of survival were not great, but that they would do everything that they could for me and my daughter.”
The DiSanzas’ daughter Elie was born just shy of 33 weeks, weighing only 3 pounds, 11 ounces. While Elie was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit, Jen DiSanza continued to fight for her life postpartum. Her husband Ray faced the uncertainty of wondering whether his wife and daughter would pull through their traumatic pregnancy experience.
“Thankfully I had knowledgeable providers and access to quality healthcare that saw me through this experience,” said Jen. “And by volunteering with and fundraising for the Preeclampsia Foundation, I am working to ensure every mom receives that same standard of care!”
“The Preeclampsia Foundation is a home to women and their partners who have walked through these experiences,” said Tsigas. “It’s our hope that by participating in the Promise Walk Wherever, every family feels connected to the important work of improving outcomes for moms and babies affected by preeclampsia.”
Everyone is invited to participate. For more information on Promise Walk Wherever and to register for the event, log on to the Promise Walk website. Participants also are encouraged to post videos or photos of their walks on the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PreeclampsiaFoundation
About the Preeclampsia Foundation
The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000 to improve the outcomes of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy by educating, supporting, and engaging the community, improving healthcare practices, and finding a cure. We envision a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org.
A visual approach to understand preeclampsia patient experiences from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine & Preeclampsia Foundation
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