Gina gave birth to Janessa when Rivera was just 18 years old. Just 2-3 months before her death, Janessa was put on birth control pills, as her parents didn’t want her to face the same struggles of teenage pregnancy that they did.
In a cruel twist of fate, it was the birth control medication that led to Janessa’s death, as it increased the risk of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which blood clots form in a vein, usually in the legs. The clots can break off and get lodged in the lungs causing a pulmonary embolus (PE), which decreases the ability of the body to get oxygen into the blood stream.
Rivera had no idea of the potential dangers of birth control pills, but after doing research he discovered that DVT/PE is a widespread problem that claims at least 100,000 lives each year, according to a 2008 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report. The risk of developing DVT from birth control is 3-4 times greater than the risk in the general population.
Rivera hopes that other women can learn from Janessa’s story so future tragedies can be avoided.
“I don’t want anybody else to go through what we’re going through,” Rivera said. “It’s an extremely painful thing. To lose a child like this is unbelievable. You have hopes and dreams and expectations, and you never expect your kids to pass before you. It’s so unnatural. The pain that it brings is unbearable.”