PEARLS is a non profit organization established under the auspices of the Heart Research Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Campbelltown Hospital to raise funds to support ongoing research into the cause of preeclampsia in pregnancy.
Professor Hennessy and her team are regarded as leaders in the world in preeclampsia research.
Established in 2002 by a small group of interested patients and doctors. At that time it was not known what causes preeclampsia. This condition has been baffling scientists and doctors for over 100 years.
Our mission is to find the cause of preeclampsia, and to develop a screening test which will directly save the lives of the thousands of babies and women who die from this condition every year.
PEARLS aims to raise funds to:
Preeclampsia is the most common complication of pregnancy.
One in 10 women will suffer from preeclampsia during their pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is often called "high blood pressure in pregnancy".
Roughly 780 babies die every day in the world from preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is the major cause of premature birth.
Over one million women are affected worldwide every year.
Preeclampsia can cause both infant and maternal mortality.
Preeclampsia can cause devastating long term issues such as brain damage and high blood pressure.
Preeclampsia is high blood pressure in pregnancy.
It often occurs in the later stages of pregnancy and is discovered when the blood pressure starts to increase and sometimes when protein in found in the urine test. It is one of the most common complications of pregnancy, affecting one in ten pregnancies.
The most serious effects occur when blood pressure is dangerously high and the pregnancy needs to be delivered early - ending with a premature baby and very sick mother.
The mother can suffer headaches, pain under the ribs and often severe swelling. In the worst cases, the high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage, stroke and even death if untreated.
"Eclampsia" was the Latin term for fitting or seizures.
Untreated, high blood pressure in pregnancy can lead to fitting which is why this condition came to be called preeclampsia.
In normal pregnancy blood pressure goes down. If you have preeclampsia, blood pressure goes up during the pregnancy.
In addition to high blood pressure, a diagnosis of preeclampsia involves protein in the urine, liver pain, headache, blood abnormalities or a baby who has stopped growing.
High blood pressure, without these other problems is the milder form of the disease.
Preeclampsia is defined as an increase in blood pressure compared to your first visit to the doctor, if the increase occurs after 20 weeks of your pregnancy. In Australia the critical markers used are a blood pressure reading of over 140/90, or a rise of 25 or more in the first number (the systolic blood pressure) or more than 15 in the second number (the diastolic blood pressure).
If your blood pressure was increased before 20 weeks of the pregnancy, it is likely that you have "essential" or chronic hypertension, rather than the blood pressure being a sign of the disease of preeclampsia. Some women have an increase in blood pressure on the oral contraceptive pill and may also experience higher blood pressure in pregnancy without this being a sign of preeclampsia.
Amanda is a lawyer of over 25 years standing specializing in all aspects of the law relating to major projects and has a long term interest in the promotion of awareness for womens’ health issues.
Amanda had preeclampsia when she was pregnant with her son Harry. Realising how widespread and devastating preeclampsia is, she joined forces with her brilliant doctor to create PEARLS Preeclampsia Research Laboratories.
In 2015 she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of outstanding achievement and service related to her PEARLS initiatives.
Annemarie Hennessy is the leader for the Vascular Immunology Group and the Dean and Foundation Chair of Medicine at the Western Sydney University. She has 19 years experience in preeclampsia research and is actively involved in clinical and laboratory research into the causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy. She directs two PhD students at the Heart Research Institute (USYD) and one at Western Sydney University.
In 2015 she was inducted as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for contribution to Medical Research, particularly in the area of clinical hypertension and maternal health.
Our fundraising committee has been instrumental in raising funds in support of PEARLS’ activities. Members are:
My inspiration is the mothers. They continue to guide and motivate the whole team in terms of the immediate importance of the work we do. Annemarie Hennessy