TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Less than two months ago, we brought you the story of Ana Ramirez-Gutierrez, who died while giving birth at Kadlec Medical Center. Now we have learned another family finds themselves in an equally tragic situation.
Doctors saved the child, but her husband and now four children are left without a mother and mountain of medical bills.
Bulfrano Martinez-Lemos and his kids hold a collage of Maria Birrueta-Valencia. Mother, wife, cousin, friend. She passed away Monday morning after doctors performed an emergency C-Section.
"He's still kind of surprised. He's kind of in disbelief," Bulfran's cousin Eli says.
Bulfrano recounted the tragic story that blindsided his family. Maria came to Kadlec's ER Sunday night complaining of abdominal pain. Doctors diagnosed her with a fatal blood condition common in pregnant mothers. They managed to save her child, three months before she was due, but Maria didn't make it.
"The kids are kind of the main focus right now for him and they're the ones that have taken it hard," Bulfrano said through his cousin.
Bulfrano, a full time farm worker, now has four children to care for and a mountain of medical bills.
"How can you care for your children? And how can you mourn for your wife when you have to worry about 'how am I going to pay the bills? Or keep a roof over their head, keep the electricity on or be able to feed them?'" he says.
The family is still mourning.
"That was one of her biggest things about her pregnancy. She really wanted a girl. She has three boys and unfortunately, she didn't get to meet her."
Doctors say she is in good condition, but will have to stay in intensive care until at least mid-August. This is the second pregnant mother to die at Kadlec in the last two months.
But the hospital says they are not related.
While they continue to investigate, Bulfrano and his family will rely on each other to make it through this life-changing event.
"There's a lot of awful things that come on the news all the time, that you see in different places, even around the corner, but when you need people, they're actually there. A lot of them do come together," he says.
And they hope that spirit will encourage the community lend their support in helping them pay for funeral and medical costs.
A fund-raising site has been set up, as the family is now faced with thousands of dollars in medical costs. If you'd like to help, click here.