"By the sheer grace of God I am here. I hope I can tell my story and help to get the Ortho Evra patch off the market and get women to stop taking it. I took birth control to be responsible, not to put myself three quarters of the way into the grave."
Samantha Eastham of Purcellville, VA:
"At the hospital, the pulmonologist asked me three questions: do I smoke, drink or take birth control. No, no and yes. I told Dr. Rosenthal that I was on the Ortho Evra patch and he said that is what caused my lung to collapse.
"I had a pulmonary embolism and I now have 50 percent lung capacity, and it will never rejuvenate; all because I was on the Ortho Evra patch for less than three months. I started taking the patch last year and I was OK but my periods were a bit heavier. My doctor said the patch does that.
"Three days before I wound up in the hospital I was having breathing issues and I thought it was pneumonia. I went to the clinic but they couldn't find anything wrong with me and they didn't take xrays.
"I went home and my lips and nail beds started turning blue - from lack of oxygen. My nine-year-old daughter Noel was the only one at home and we live out in the sticks in rural Virginia. The nearest hospital in rush hour at 5pm was a 40 minute ride so I was scared; it would take too long for an ambulance to arrive. We drove to the hospital and then I had to wait until they admitted me. The pain in my chest was excruciating, like I was being stabbed with an ice pick. Noel was frantically calling my family to tell them to come to the hospital right away.
"By the time my family had shown up I thought I was dying; I couldn't hold on anymore. I was going into shock. My veins were flat through lack of oxygen. But they managed to get enough for a test for pulmonary embolism (PE) and it came back positive.
"As soon as they realized what was wrong with me, I was rushed to the intensive care unit. And that is where I stayed for 10 days.
"I was 115 lb, 35 years old, I had never smoked, never drank alcohol or taken drugs, and now I was dying. I had all the specialists in there. After I was admitted, they put me on heprin, a blood thinner, and they told me not to move
because the blood clots travel and I had a 75 percent chance of not surviving. Being as sick as I was, I also ended up with bilateral pneumonia. After Dr. Rosenthal asked if I was on birth control, that was my last memory for four days. They had to keep me heavily sedated so I wouldn't move. I was on oxygen and heart monitors and had chest xrays four times a day.
"My family didn't think I was going to make it. Noel spent 10 days crying and missed school and my husband said the earth stopped moving and the gates of hell opened up for him - it was sheer agony for those 10 days.
"I know it was Ortho Evra that put me in the hospital. All other contributing factors to blood clots do not apply to me. As it turns out, the makers of Ortho Evra knew about these side affects before I even started taking it!
"I am very, very upset. I missed four months of work but most of all it has changed my life - I will be on coumidin (blood thinner) forever. And I cannot have any more children. I live with constant pain in my left side when I breathe and will most likely have pain for the rest of my life.
"I want to know if the drug manufacturers and everyone who helped to put the patch on the market would have their wives, daughters and granddaughters take the patch. Based on what they know, would they knowingly prescribe the Ortho Evra patch to their loved ones?
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Would the drug makers prescribe the Ortho Evra patch to their loved ones?
|. By Jane Mundy|
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