Grand Haven dentist, 34, dies during childbirth

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — A Grand Haven dentist died after experiencing a rare complication during the birth of her second child.

Elizabeth Curtis lost consciousness Saturday at North Ottawa Community Hospital when she experienced what appeared to be an amniotic fluid embolism, said her husband, Scott Curtis.

The 34-year-old was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital where she died Sunday morning. An autopsy is underway.

Doctors performed an emergency C-section and the baby, Katherine Elizabeth Curtis, was born healthy at 7 pounds, 6 ounces, her father said.

“We look at her as a blessing and are very happy for that outcome at least,” Curtis told “It’s a little source of comfort that we know we have her.”

Elizabeth Curtis was unconscious after the delivery, but her baby was placed next to her before she was taken to the hospital in Grand Rapids, her mother-in-law, Jane Curtis, told the Grand Haven Tribune.

There were no complications with the pregnancy, and Curtis had been laughing and joking just before announcing she wasn’t feeling well, Jane Curtis said.

An amniotic fluid embolism happens when amniotic fluid or fetal material enters the mother’s bloodstream and causes an allergic-like reaction. The unpredictable complication occurs in one in 15,200 deliveries in America, according to the Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation.

Curtis practiced dentistry for nearly six years and she was close to forming a full partnership with the other dentists at her office — her home dentist office growing up.

Curtis, who was secretary of the Rotary Club of Grand Haven and treasurer of the Muskegon District Dental Society, volunteered with the Miles of Smiles mobile dental unit that provides services for children from low-income families.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday at a Grand Haven funeral home, and a memorial service will be held Saturday at First Presbyterian Church.

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