Mother dies unexpectedly after giving birth to sixth child

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OREM — A Utah County mother passed away Monday due to complications from giving birth.

Katrina Galbraith Lawrence died at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Monday after delivering her sixth child. Shortly afterwards, the doorbell rang at the home of her older brother, Rex Galbraith, in Provo and family and friends poured in to offer their condolences.

"Katrina is one of those once-in-a-lifetime people that you don't ever think will be gone," Galbraith said.

Katrina gave birth to her son Jet Lee Monday afternoon. He will never get the chance to know his mother. Now the family is trying to process the thought of an active, joyful 36-year-old woman giving birth to a child and then passing away.

"We have a brand new baby. I'm going to miss her so much," said her husband, Justus Lawrence, 35.

Holding his 11-year-old daughter Maya close and choking back tears, Lawrence said his wife was everyone's friend and an incredible woman of faith.

"Strong. Solid. Amazing example to me," Lawrence said. "I hope I can live up to her expectations."

Katrina's family said she began to experience complications associated with placenta previa and accreta when she was five months pregnant. This is a condition where the placenta attaches itself to the uterus or other organs and can cause hemorrhaging.

"There's a risk of the placenta growing into the uterus and not detaching normally during the time of delivery," said Dr. Glenn Schemmer, a perinatologist at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Schemmer said women who have had multiple C-sections are at higher risk for placenta previa and accreta. All of Katrina's previous births had been delivered by C-sections.

What is
Placenta Accreta?
  • Occurs when the placenta attaches too deep in the uterine wall without penetrating the uterine muscle
  • Can cause bleeding during the third trimester
  • A cesarean delivery increases the possibility of a future placenta accreta
  • Hemorrhaging can occur during attempts to detach the placenta, a major concern for the mother's health
  • Can result in a hysterectomy
Info: American Pregnancy Association

Her husband said she seemed to be in good health and was even exercising up until she was seven months pregnant. But about a month ago, Katrina's condition became more serious. Her doctors began monitoring her full time in the hospital.

Katrina was due to deliver her son June 15, but at around 2:30 p.m. Monday she began hemorrhaging and was rushed into surgery. Her family thought she would be fine because, at one point, she had a team of specialists in the operating room. That team of doctors gave Katrina‘s father comfort and hope.

"He says, ‘I've never, in all (my) deliveries, have seen a set of surgeons and specialists work as hard as they have on your daughter,' " said Gordon Galbraith, Katrina's father. "They didn't want to lose the fight."

During surgery doctors worked to revive Katrina several times, but they couldn't save her life.

"The doctor said usually there is some sign," said Celeste Galbraith, her mother. "But this one, everything was going well, but her heart just stopped."

Katrina's children have fond memories of their mother. As the only girl among brothers, Maya, 11, said she'll remember the times her mother would paint her toenails and the moment she knew she'd never see her mother again at the hospital.

"I closed my eyes and I heard her say to me, ‘Nye Maya. I love you,' " said Maya.

Te, 12, will cherish the times his mother would support him during his sports activities.

"She would always be the one cheering me in the crowd and always be the one to say, ‘Good job,' " Te said.

The oldest child described his mother as "an angel, a gift and a blessing."

"This morning, I could like almost see her just smiling in front of me," said Kai, 14. He made her a promise and plans to step up as the big brother in the family.

"I promised her that I would take care of her child," Kai said.

The family's Latter-day Saint faith is helping them cope with their loss. They believe they'll see her again.

"She's in a better place," Justus Lawrence said.

How to donate

Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Branch.

Those who want to donate need the account number.

The account number created is 7056759124 for "Team Katrina."

Her family believes Katrina has a greater mission in another realm.

"My sister-in-law said, ‘Katrina has so much goodness in her heart that this world cannot hold her,' " said Celeste Galbraith.

As for newborn Jet Lee, doctors have taken him off oxygen and he will begin bottle feeding soon. The family is planning a funeral service Saturday at 11 a.m. at an LDS Stake Center on 1075 S. Geneva Road in Orem. A viewing will also be held Friday night at 5 p.m. at the same location.

Friends and the community have set up an account at Wells Fargo Bank under the name "Team Katrina"* to help pay for medical expenses.

* has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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