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State reviews 2 deaths at South Shore Hospital

Women died after giving birth at Weymouth facility

Colleen A. Celia with her husband, Paul, whom she married last year. She died last Wednesday at South Shore Hospital.
Colleen A. Celia with her husband, Paul, whom she married last year. She died last Wednesday at South Shore Hospital.(Handout)

The state Public Health Department is conducting an outside review into the deaths of two women soon after giving birth at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, agency spokeswoman Anne Roach said Tuesday.

Doctors at South Shore Hospital have continued to deliver babies while the hospital conducts its own review of the maternal deaths, which occurred Dec. 14 and last Wednesday. The state Health Department spokeswoman said she could not provide details of the two recent deaths because the inquiry is ongoing.

While deaths of women during or soon after childbirth are uncommon, they continue to happen. There were 52 maternal deaths in Massachusetts during the 10-year period that ended in 2010.

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Colleen A. Celia, 32, a Middleborough mother of four, died last Wednesday at South Shore Hospital while giving birth to a healthy baby girl, Mya Rose, said Celia’s father, Raymond Romero of Easton.

He said Celia, who worked as a patient navigator for a Braintree medical practice, was classified as a high-risk pregnancy because she had a condition called placenta previa, in which abnormal growth of the placenta usually necessitates a caesarean section. Just a few minutes after doctors delivered Celia’s baby, complications set in, he said.

Doctors told the family that Celia died of an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare condition that occurs when amniotic fluid or material from the fetus, such as hair, enters the maternal bloodstream. But he said the family will not know for sure until an autopsy is complete.

“Obviously, it is a traumatic event for the whole family,’’ Romero said. He said the hospital provided outstanding care.

Celia had three children, ages 14, 9, and 6, before meeting her husband, Paul Celia, her father said. They married last spring.

“Her life was her children,’’ Romero said. “They wanted to have a child together, so they didn’t want to wait too long. Everyone will remember her spontaneous laughter and big smile. She was a very pretty girl. It was hard to miss her when she walked into the room.’’

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Cindy Celia, Colleen Celia’s mother-in-law, said hospital medical staff tried to save Celia for two hours. The family, she said, is having a difficult time coping with her death.

“Colleen was a super special woman,’’ she said. “She used to have a tattoo on her arm that said ‘move.’ It meant move forward, never look back.’’

The other woman who died during childbirth was identified by the Brockton Enterprise as Christie Billodeau Fazio, 30, of Marshfield. She worked as a nurse at South Shore Hospital, and died Dec. 14 while giving birth to a healthy son.

“Early indications are that both these cases were unpreventable and unanticipated,’’ said Sarah Darcy, spokeswoman for the Weymouth hospital. “The biggest measure we are really focused on is supporting these families and making sure they have everything they need or want from us.’’

Roach said that a Health Department review “is standard protocol in serious reportable events.’’

“Due to privacy considerations, the Health Department is not able to comment on a specific patient or incident,’’ she said in a written statement.

Hospitals must report most maternal deaths or serious injuries to the Health Department within seven days of discovering the problem and provide a follow-up report within 30 days of that.

Colleen Celia’s family has set up a fund to help care for her children. Donations may be sent to Bank of Easton, 275 Washington St., Easton, for the Colleen A. Romero-Celia Memorial Fund.

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Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at kowalczyk@globe.com.