After daughter's death, family works to bring awareness to danger of birth control pills

Family creates foundation to help with research

On Oct. 30, 2013, David and Roz Rowan received a call that rocked their world. It was an EMT telling them that their 24-year-old daughter, Alexandra, had collapsed.

Frantic and told by doctors their daughter had a “50-50 chance,”  the Rowans hopped on a plane from Houston to Pittsburgh to check on their daughter.

By the time they made it to Pittsburgh, the girl who they called their "miracle baby" was dead.

“Our friend was waiting for us at the gate, and as soon as I saw her face, I knew the worst had come,” said Alex’s father, David Rowan.

After arriving at the hospital, doctors confirmed Alexandra was dead.

“He said that she crashed three times on the operating table and the fourth time she didn't come back," Rowan said. "The doctor said she had massive pulmonary embolisms, that's what killed her.”

A risky decision

Six months before she died, Alexandra had begun taking hormonal birth control pills.

Although she and her parents didn’t know it at the time, the birth control pills she was prescribed increased the risk for blood clots in the women who used them.

“For the majority of people, it works," Rowan said. "But 1 in 12,000 people are gonna die. That may sound like a low number, but when it's your 1 in 12,000 who dies, it's devastating.”

Alexandra’s mom says if they had known the risks, things would have been different.

“If we'd known then what we know now, obviously I would have never let her go on the pill,” she said. 

Helping save the lives of other women

After their daughter’s death, the Rowans created the Alex Rowan Foundation, to which they have donated nearly $550,000 to help support creative writing programs and pulmonary embolism research.

They have also started a new partnership with University of Houston’s creative writing program to help students who shared a love and passion for writing as Alexandra did.

David Rowan also wrote his memoir, “My Beautiful Memory” as a way to share his memories of Alexandra. 

The Rowans have also partnered with the National Blood Clot Alliance and Women and Blood Clots to bring more awareness about issues related to estrogen based birth control, and life-threatening blood clots.

The Rowans mission is about spreading awareness. For those women who want to check their risk for blood clots, Women and Blood Clots have created a “Hormonal Contraception Screening Guide & Risk Assessment Tool,” which can be found below.

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