For more than a decade, the Seymour family has sought care from Atrium Health Women’s Care, Atrium Health Levine Children’s, and more. Learn how each area of the healthcare system has come together to offer lifesaving care for Kellen and her miracle baby, Layne.

Women's Health, News | 6 months ago

Atrium Health Women’s and Children’s Care Proves Lifesaving for Seymour Family

For more than a decade, the Seymour family has sought care from Atrium Health Women’s Care, Atrium Health Levine Children’s, and more. Learn how each area of the healthcare system has come together to offer lifesaving care for Kellen and her miracle baby, Layne.


When Kellen Seymour first moved to the Charlotte area in 2007, she researched OB/GYNs and established care with Dr. Jerry Matkins with Atrium Health Women’s Care Eastover OB/GYN

Little did she know how important that decision was going to be, and the impact Atrium Health would have on her family.

“When I got pregnant for the first time, Dr. Matkins was the obvious choice,” said Kellen. “I met with many of the doctors during my first pregnancy and trusted all of them, but Dr. Matkins always stood out!”

Guided by Atrium Health Women’s Care, Kellen was prepared to deliver a healthy baby. One day before her due date, Kellen gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Parker. Shortly after the delivery, her blood pressure spiked.  Blood work revealed she was suffering from HELLP syndrome, or hemolysis elevated liver enzymes, requiring medication to get it under control. After an extended stay at the hospital, she was able to go home with her healthy baby girl!

About 6 months later, she returned to Dr. Matkins with concerns over extreme fatigue.

“I went to Dr. Matkins because he was my go-to for every ailment—he’s my favorite person,” said Kellen. “I started to just feel exhausted and told him that I know I have a young baby, but this is crazy… this is a different type of exhaustion.’ And then all of a sudden, I lost 10 pounds in a week, and I wasn't trying to. I went to him, and he suggested a couple things to test for.” It turned out she was having hyperthyroid issues. She was referred to endocrinology and was tested for what turned out to be Graves Disease, an autoimmune thyroid issue.

After she improved with nearly a year of medication, Kellen and her husband, John, were ready to expand their family once more. 

A History of Trusted Care

When it came time for routine prenatal checkups again, Kellen didn’t hesitate to seek care from the same medical team that stayed by her side during Parker’s birth and her postnatal period. 

“Dr. Matkins was the obvious choice,” said Kellen. “I told him, ‘I trust anybody in your practice, and it doesn't matter who delivers the baby—but I want to see you for all my check-ups.’”

At Kellen’s 37-week checkup she mentioned she felt funny.

“At this point, Dr. Matkins knew me well enough to know when something's not right,” said Kellen. “And he just looked at me and said, ‘Let's run your blood work.’"

 Dr. Matkins listened to Kellen’s concerns and knew something was off. 

“I can't really put my finger on something specific she said, or any kind of signal that she gave off, but it just didn't seem right,” said Dr. Matkins. “And especially given her history, it made me a little more concerned so I did some evaluation that I may not have done otherwise. We often work on algorithms and formulas, but sometimes there's definitely a feeling involved.”

Further evaluation determined both Kellen and Dr. Matkins’ gut feelings were right. 

“Her blood pressure wasn't elevated at that point, and baby was moving around nicely. Everything seemed okay, but it was just something about her and her trying to communicate to me that she just didn't feel right,” said Dr. Matkins. “And I had known her so long that it made my ears perk up a little bit. I did some evaluation checking specifically for the HELLP syndrome markers. They had started to go up.”

Trending towards HELLP syndrome once again, Dr. Matkins advised Kellen that he had scheduled an induction to keep both mom and baby safe during delivery. The next day, Kellen and her husband, John, arrived at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) to bring their second baby, Layne, into the world. 

“We took our time and arrived around noon, then they gave me pitocin,” explains Kellen. “The labor wasn’t really evolving. Shortly after minor contractions were starting, I could tell something was off because people kept checking the heart rate monitor.  Unfortunately, the baby’s heart rate wasn't bouncing back the way it should be, and that’s the first time I actually met Dr. Counihan.”

Dr. Joshua Counihan, a physician with Atrium Health Women’s Care Eastover OB/GYN, explained to the couple that their baby’s heart rate was abnormal. He told the couple a cesarean section might be the safest way to bring her baby, named Layne, into the world. 

Dr. Counihan says the pattern he recognized in Layne’s heartbeat came seemingly out of nowhere with zero symptoms involved—careful monitoring is the only reason he picked up on it.

“When we put Kellen on the baby monitor and we're watching Layne's heart rate, initially she looked totally fine without any problems,” said Dr. Counihan. “But soon after, without any intervention, the heart rate started doing a little more of a rare thing that we don't see very commonly called a sinusoidal pattern. In fact, it's so rare that at first, it was hard to believe that's what was going on.”

In medical terms, a sinusoidal pattern during labor is indicative of fetal anemia—in other words, Layne was losing a lot of blood. Quickly, Kellen needed an emergency C-section so Layne could receive lifesaving pediatric care. 

“Whatever we need to do, do it," Kellen replays the memory of her reaction out loud. “And so, we ended up going in for a C-section and John was able to be in the room with me."

While Kellen’s memory is tainted by anesthesia, John remembers the moments following Layne’s birth vividly. 

Access to Expert Pediatric Care Saves Layne’s Life

“I see them, they pull Layne out, and you could tell something's going on, because it's very serious, communicating back and forth,” said John. “Layne was as white as a sheet, and she wasn’t breathing so they began CPR on her.”

The care team continued working to save Layne’s life. Once the team stabilized her, they brought her to the Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital NICU and began three blood transfusions immediately. 

Layne’s care team moved quickly and explained the dire situation necessitated swift decision making on every team’s part in order to save her life. 

“Quickly we clamped and cut the cord and handed her off to the neonatologists  who were waiting there in the operating room,” said Dr. Counihan. “They immediately started taking care of her. It moved much faster in that way than a standard C-section. Even from an emergency C-section standpoint, it still moved pretty fast, especially for Layne and how anemic that she was.”

Reeling from the aftermath of a traumatic birth experience, the couple learned from the Levine Children’s neonatology team that they suspected a potential, rare birth complication could be at play. 

“About the time that John came in the room with me, the neonatologist came in and said, ‘I need to take your blood. I want to test it for something. I have this theory,’" recalls Kellen. “He thought I'd had a fetal-maternal hemorrhage, even though there was no trauma or any reason that it might have happened, there was no placental abruption or anything. After taking blood, it was, in fact, a fetal-maternal hemorrhage.”

In a fetal-maternal hemorrhage, the fetus’s blood enters the mother’s blood circulation before or during delivery. When the hemorrhage is large enough, it can result in severe infant anemia, birth injury, or stillbirth.

Dr. Counihan adds that while Layne’s birth was a miracle, Kellen’s established relationship with Dr. Matkins, as well as fast-acting medical wisdom, played a role in the positive outcome. 

“I think that things happen for a reason,” says Dr. Counihan. “But for some reason, the day before where Dr. Matkins checked the labs and something on those labs triggered him to say, ‘I think that she should go in to be delivered,’ that was one thing that really needed to happen.

Once the team noticed Layne’s sinusoidal pattern on the monitor, work happened pretty quickly. Because of how severe Layne's condition was when she first came out, it could have been worse.”

Recalling the timeline of events in her head, Kellen describes Layne’s story as a miracle. She credits Layne’s survival to the swift response and decision-making of Atrium Health’s medical team.

“It took the neonatologist maybe 75 seconds, once they called him, to get from where he was to where we were,” says Kellen. “I know for a fact, and I have chills saying it, that if we would not have been there at CMC, that Layne would not have survived. I mean, every single neonatologist we saw at Levine Children’s said, ‘There is no medical explanation as to why your baby is here. She is a miracle.’”

From Care Team to Family

As Layne recovered in the NICU, Atrium Health and Levine Children’s nurses made sure to involve her parents in each step of healing. John joyfully recalls the first time he fed Layne. 

“They had us involved in a lot of the milestones they wanted Layne to reach — I think the first one I really remember is feeding,” says John. “And once they started getting that, they would say, ‘Hey, we're going to try again in an hour. Do you want to come down, help us try to do it?’ So, we were involved in all those processes, which was great. You felt really part of a family, especially in the NICU with all the nurses. We became close with a lot of them.”

While each day was challenging to watch as a mother, Kellen fondly thinks back to small moments of joy and relief—like the first time big sister, Parker, came to meet Layne. 

“She was in the NICU for nine days, nine long days,” said Kellen. “When Parker came, the sweet nurses gave Parker some little, teeny tiny, preemie diapers for her baby dolls, and that made her day. Just those little extra things were a huge deal.”

As time went on, the Seymours learned Layne suffered a stroke in the first moments of her life, potentially in embryo. And while it caused some physical obstacles for Layne, Kellen explains Atrium Health Levine Children’s has been instrumental in helping her to overcome the challenges. 

“She has a little bit of trouble physically, but nothing we can't combat with physical therapy and occupational therapy, '' adds Kellen. 

Five Years Later, Layne is Thriving

Now five and a half years old, Layne Seymour is a talkative, cognitively advanced child who enjoys swimming and playing barbies with her big sister.

Dr. Matkins, who still sees Kellen for OB/GYN care, says stories like the Seymours’ are the reasons he loves what he does.

“That's why I love doing obstetrics and gynecology,” says Dr. Matkins. “I've known Kellen since she was in her early twenties to now being a wonderful mom taking care of two growing kids. Those relationships are why I do what I do. And I'm just honored to be a part of it.”

Kellen’s choice to seek OB/GYN services and deliver at a hospital system with access to all levels of care ended up being a lifesaving decision, adds Dr. Counihan.

“I think Kellen being at Atrium Health Women's Care and being at Atrium Health’s hospital, connected to Levine Children's Hospital is what helped save Layne,” said Dr. Counihan. “Because she was here at a big center that had all of the tools needed, both for Kellen and having an emergency cesarean section, but also for Layne and needing the care that she did after she was born.”

Atrium Health Women’s Care and Levine Children’s Care

From family planning to pregnancy, birth, menopause, and beyond, Atrium Health Women’s Care is here for you. Learn more about our  OB/GYN doctors and care providers and award-winning services, or call 704-468-8884 to make an appointment.

Atrium Health Levine Children’s has the most board-certified pediatricians in the region and is backed by Levine Children’s Hospital, by U.S. News & World Report in multiple specialties. Learn more about Levine Children’s