Mother and child restored to life
DAN ELLIOTT, DENVER
December 31, 2009
MIKE Hermanstorfer was clutching his pregnant wife's hand when her life slipped away in a Colorado hospital on Christmas Eve. Moments later he cradled his newborn son's limp body after a medical team delivered the baby by caesarean section.
In a few minutes his son would begin to breathe again under the feverish attention of doctors, and soon he learned his wife had also inexplicably come back to life.
''My legs went out from underneath me,'' Mr Hermanstorfer said. ''I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me.''
Mr Hermanstorfer's wife, Tracy, went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing during labor last Thursday, said Dr Stephanie Martin, a maternal foetal specialist at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, where the Hermanstorfers had gone for the birth of their son.
''She had no signs of life. No heartbeat, no blood pressure, she wasn't breathing,'' said Dr Martin, who had rushed to Mrs Hermanstorfer's room to help. ''The baby was basically limp, with a very slow heart rate.''
Both mother and baby, named Coltyn, now appear healthy, Dr Martin said. She could not explain the mother's cardiac arrest or the recovery.
''We did a thorough evaluation and can't find anything that explains why this happened,'' Dr Martin said.
But Mr Hermanstorfer credits ''the hand of God''.
''We are both believers … but this right here, even a nonbeliever - you explain to me how this happened? There is no other explanation,'' he said.
Tracy Hermanstorfer, 33, was preparing for childbirth at the hospital last Thursday morning and her 37-year-old husband was by her side when she began to feel sleepy and lay back in her bed.
''She literally stopped breathing and her heart stopped,'' her husband said.
Pandemonium erupted as doctors and nurses tried to revive her with chest compressions and a breathing tube.
''I was holding her hand when we realised she was gone,'' Mr Hermanstorfer said. ''My entire life just rolled out.''
Doctors told him they needed to switch their attention from his wife and quickly remove his son. After the caesarean section, some of the team rushed his wife to the operating room while the others attended to Coltyn.
''They hand him to me, he's absolutely lifeless,'' Mr Hermanstorfer said.
The doctors went to work on Coltyn as his father held him, and soon he began to breathe.
Dr Martin estimates Mrs Hermanstorfer had no heartbeat for about four minutes.
Friends have asked Mrs Hermanstorfer if she saw a light or had experiences described by others who had survived near-death experiences. She didn't.
''I just felt like I was asleep,'' she said.