Mary (not her real name) took Yasmin for several years to control endometriosis pain. It worked well until she started to develop a shortness of breath and had chest pains, but on her right side. "It didn't bother me so much when I worked out at the gym but I couldn't walk up the stairs at home without getting winded and my heart would be pounding," she says.
Mary was 42 years old, didn't smoke or drink, and went to the gym regularly, so she just chalked it up to a pulled muscle. Three weeks later, Mary and her husband were on a plane to Europe.
"Just twelve hours after we arrived, my husband and I went to a business dinner," Mary says. "I felt fine but tired. No sooner were we seated when I turned to my husband and pointed to my chest. He thought I was choking and did the Heimlich maneuver and at that point I was told that I had a seizure—I went from white to blue to gray, and he thought I was dead.
"Within about 15 minutes the paramedics arrived. I had a faint pulse and I came to when they put oxygen on me. It was so confusing. I was on the floor and my dress was up around my shoulders and someone pulled a tablecloth around me. The paramedics put me in a chair and strapped me in. Four of them grabbed a chair leg each and carried me into the ambulance. I just thought about that chair at weddings and told my husband to make them put me down—I had no idea that I had been unconscious! I do remember my husband sobbing. I told them to let me go, I just need to go back to the hotel and have a nap.
"They were asking so many questions in French, which added to the confusion. They were telling me to keep my eyes open and asked if I had pain in my legs and if I was on any meds. I just told them I took a sleeping pill on the plane. My husband said, 'Wait, you are on a birth control pill.'
"As soon as I said Yasmin, all hell broke loose!
"'She's having a pulmonary embolism,' they yelled. And the calm was over. Doctors said the flight exacerbated the embolism but they also think I had other pulmonary embolisms before this one."
Mary had an EKG, chest X-ray, a CAT Scan and an MRI. (Fortunately she had exceptional health care and was only charged $1,000 a day in the intensive care unit. Mary says she couldn't have been in a better place when this happened.)
She knows all birth control is risky but not to the point of killing someone, and not someone as healthy as her. "I figured that Yasmin couldn't harm someone like me, someone with my lifestyle," she says. "In fact, when I was on coumadin therapy (for 10 months), they had to up the dosage to counteract my healthy diet!
"On the way home my husband had to give me heparin injections on the plane and we were upgraded to first class on the way home so I could be horizontal…
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"Now I was ready to do something about it. My cousin is 30 and smokes and takes Yasmin. My niece is 20 and takes Yasmin for her skin. They won't go off it! They are two reasons why I am telling my story.
"If Bayer settled with me for 50 cents that would be enough, along with a promise to take Yasmin and other drospinerone products off the market."