Karen Flaherty

Karen Sharkey Flaherty, died on February 4, 2002. Karen was an early member of the Farm community and was a founding member of Plenty (www.plenty.org). She served on Plenty's Board of Directors since 1988 and was treasurer for most of that time. Karen cofounded the Bhopal Justice Campaign to help the people of Bhopal, India. obtain justice and compensation for their injuries as a result of the massive chemical accident at a Union Carbide palnt in December, 1984.

Karen died of a bowel obstruction at the age of 53, 25 years after her second cesarean. Cesareans and other forms of abdominal surgery can cause a proliferation of abdominal adhesions in some people, and these tissue "cobwebs" of scar tissue can strangle the bowel. No country in the world knows how many women die from the long-term consequences of cesarean section every year, but the number could be substantial. Some medical studies have shown that as many as a third of people who undergo abdominal surgery will suffer from some degree of bowel obstruction during their lifetime as a side effect of that surgery. Warning symptoms are severe pain and diminished bowel sounds by stethoscope.

Karen's quilt piece was made by her friend Bernice Davidson. It is not part of the Safe Motherhood Quilt proper, as the panels for that Quilt are that each woman died within one year of the end of her pregnancy. However, if anyone reading about Karen's story knows of another woman whose death by bowel strangulation or obstruction proceeded from an abdominal surgery related to pregnancy, no matter how many years later her death took place, please share her story.