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Mission Monday: Wisconsin Family Turns Tragedy to Hope

April 21, 2014
Jenny, Brian and Ken at the 2013 Richland Center Promise Walk.

Jenny, Brian and Ken at the 2013 Richland Center Promise Walk.

Mission Family Monday is when we take the opportunity to spotlight the real stories of families affected by preeclampsia, who have chosen to share that story in their local community to raise awareness of this cause. These individuals shine a spotlight on the work that the Preeclampsia Foundation supporters do through the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. Please feel free to share this story in your own community!

Wisconsin native Jenny Johnsrud had been having a fairly normal pregnancy up through 38 weeks. Even her doctor confirmed that everything looked normal for an at-term delivery.

But on March 31, 2012, everything changed. Jenny could barely stand up straight at work; her head ached; she was nauseated and had a terrible pain in her stomach. Her husband Ken realized that something was not right. Bags in hand, they went to the doctor’s office at 11 pm that night.

Her blood pressure was extremely high, but worse, her blood work came back and confirmed the doctor’s suspicion: her blood platelet count was at 30,000. She had stage 3 HELLP syndrome.

Because the baby was so near term, they worked to induce labor naturally and try to avoid a C-section, since Jenny was at severe risk of hemorrhage. Happily after a few hours of laboring, Brian Johnsrud was born weighing a healthy 6 lbs., 6 oz.

Happily, Jenny’s vitals returned to near normal and Brian had only a short stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Still, the Johnsrud family couldn’t believe how quick their pregnancy had gone from normal to life-threatening in a few short days.

“The Preeclampsia Foundation was such a big help for me during this experience,” said Jenny. She added that she was very well-informed and well read, but “I was taken aback when my Dr. said I had HELLP syndrome. I read and had an understanding ofthe PE part of it, but I had no idea what I was going through. It wasn’t until I was home after the birth of my son, that I researched HELLP. The Preeclampsia Foundation was the most informative site out there.”

Ken, Jenny, Brian and their new baby daughter Michelle will be leading the Richland Center, Wisconsin Promise Walk on May 10, 2014 at Krouskop Park with their team “McWalkers.” They are eager to help women know to take their symptoms seriously and immediately get to care.

“I don’t want to think about the outcome if I didn’t trust my gut that something wasn’t right,” said Jenny. “Bottom line: awareness saves lives.”

Join the Richland Center Promise Walk at www.promisewalk.org/richlandcenter.

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