Death shocks fans, family

Doctors say death of complications after childbirth is extremely rare.

Published May 18, 2007

TAMPA - They were a couple straight out of central casting: Nyle Wiren, the popular football player and man about town. And Caroline Still, the former Buccaneers cheerleader and Southern belle from Mississippi.

They married in 2002 in Key West and celebrated their five-year anniversary less than two months ago.

On Thursday, their friends and teammates were struggling to make sense of a tragedy that left her dead and him the father of a healthy baby boy.

In an occurrence that doctors said is extremely rare, Caroline Still Wiren, 34, died Wednesday of complications after giving birth at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital.

"It's infrequent," said Dr. Madelyn Butler, a Tampa obstetrician-gynecologist who founded the Women's Group. "The reason why this made news is women don't die in childbirth."

In the United States, 10 of every 100,000 women giving birth die of complications, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC does not distinguish between births that happened at home or in a hospital.

Family and doctors familiar with Wiren's condition when she was admitted to St. Joseph's could not be reached Thursday for comment. A hospital spokesman could not give details about her death because of medical privacy laws.

But local doctors who specialize in obstetrics offered several scenarios that could lead to excessive bleeding and death, as in Wiren's case.

Dr. Cathy Lynch, director of the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of South Florida, said some women suffer from postpartum hemorrhaging. The uterus doesn't contract strongly enough and because of the amount of blood being pumped from a woman's heart during delivery, she could bleed to death.

Postpartum hemorrhaging accounts for about 30 percent of the more than 500,000 maternal deaths that occur worldwide during childbirth every year, according to a 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health.

Another danger: Amniotic fluid can make its way into a woman's circulatory system and disrupt the body's ability to clot, Lynch said.

"The reassuring thing for most pregnant women is that this is a rare occurrence," she said.

Friends said the Wirens were a close and happy couple.

"It was just an undeniable love that she had for him, and Nyle also," said Pat O'Hara, an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Storm who was close friends with the Wirens.

Nyle Wiren, 34, has played 10 seasons with the Storm and is a fan favorite. Caroline Wiren was in her fourth year as head coach of the USF SunDolls, the school's dance team. She cheered with the Tampa Bay Bucs for two season and has worked in the past with the Storm.

"They were both jokesters," LaVonna Anthony, 20, a USF senior and SunDoll since 2005, said of the Wirens. "We keep waiting for them to say, 'Yeah, just kidding.' Some of us are still in denial."

Caroline Wiren was a perfectionist, Anthony said. She always pushed the dance team to do better.

"I'm going to keep that with me," Anthony said.

The Storm will honor Caroline Wiren tonight by wearing a heart-shaped sticker inscribed with the number 44, her husband's uniform number.

Teammates said the Wirens planned to name their 9-pound, 3-ounce son Clay.

Times researchers Lea Iadarola and Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com David Murphy can be reached at (352) 848-1407 or dmurphy@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

In memoriam

- The Tampa Bay Storm and Palace Sports and Entertainment will donate half of all full-priced ticket sales from the team's remaining three home games to a fund for Caroline Wiren's son.

- Condolences and sympathy cards can be sent to: St. Pete Times Forum, c/o Tampa Bay Storm, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

- A private memorial service will be held in Caroline Wiren's home state of Mississippi.