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A family tragedy has been the catalyst for a new organization here in the Ozarks. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has the story.
Katie Projansky was seven weeks pregnant when she died in June of last year. Her death was caused by a blood clot that traveled from a deep vein in the leg and into the lungs, which led to cardiac arrest. This condition is known as DVT, or deep vein thrombosis. If the clot travels to the lungs, as was the case with Katie, it causes a pulmonary embolism, and possibly death.
We spoke with Dr. Zak Schmittling, a vascular surgeon with Ferrell-Duncan Clinic in Springfield. He listed some of the warning signs for DVT.
“Sometimes people will have pain in their leg. Sometimes they won’t have any pain. Swelling in your leg, redness in the leg—those type of things [are symptoms]. Especially new onsets [like the] sudden swelling or pain in the leg, especially in the calf. Sometimes the only symptom you’ll have is the actual symptom of a pulmonary embolism, where you’ll have shortness of breath and sharp sporadic-like chest pain,” said Schmittling.
Katie’s sister, Sharon Anderson, has started an organization in memory of her sister. Anderson says she created “Katie’s Voice” to educate others about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms.
“My job, and I feel, actually my call is to help other people to advocate for the prevention and awareness of DVT and PE so this doesn’t happen to another family,” Anderson says.
Anderson says her grandmother died at the age of 55, and her sister Katie at 36, both of the same illness. She says that one of the lessons her family has learned from Katie’s death is to share family medical history with each other so everyone is aware of potential medical problems. She says this was a hard lesson for her to learn.
“There isn’t a day that goes by; there isn’t an hour that goes by in a day that I don’t think about her. And that’s why I definitely made this my mission to help advocate for the prevention and awareness—because I don’t want Katie to have passed and her death to be in vain. I want everybody to really be aware of the situation and try to help others,” Anderson said.
[Sound: Café sounds, papers rustling, cars driving by.]
Anderson brought pictures to the interview; we met at an outdoor café in Springfield. She says her sister was always smiling or laughing, even when times were tough. She remembers when Katie’s husband, Drew, had major surgery a couple years ago, and how both Katie and Drew used humor to get through difficult times.
She describes one picture of Katie.
“I love this photo. This is my mom and Katie on Katie’s wedding day when my mom’s got her hand on her shoulder. And Katie was named after my mom—Katherine Mary, my mom’s name is Mary Kay, so Katie was named after her,” said Anderson.
Anderson encourages anyone who wants to get involved to contact her. Most importantly to her, she wants everyone to know and recognize the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, and to share their own family medical histories with relatives. You can go to ksmu.org for more information about Katie’s Voice.
For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.