'Miracle' Mom and Baby 'Dead' in Labor, Revived

Father watched family die, come back to life before his eyes.

ByLEE FERRAN via logo
December 29, 2009, 1:28 PM

Dec. 29, 2009 — -- In what is being hailed as a Christmas "miracle," a young mother died during labor with a still-born baby on Christmas Eve but both mom and baby came back to life just minutes later, before the eyes of the nearly heartbroken, stunned father.

"Half of my family was lying there right in front of me -- there's no other way to say it -- dead," Mike Hermanstorfer told ABC News' Colorado affiliate KRDO. "I lost all feeling. Once her heartbeat stopped, I felt like mine did too."

Hermanstorfer's wife, Tracey, had suffered cardiac arrest while she was in labor at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.

"They were getting ready to put a catheter in and I closed my eyes and don't remember anything after that," Tracey said.

She had no pulse, no heartbeat, was not breathing and was turning "gray," Dr. Stephanie Martin, director of maternal fetal medicine at Colorado's Memorial Hospital, told CBS News' Colorado affiliate KKTV. "She was dead."

"I sat there with my wife's hand in mine, ice cold," Mike told KKTV.

After trying to revive Tracey for several minutes to no avail, doctors ordered an emergency C-section with no anesthesia in an attempt to save the baby. The baby was delivered, but it too was not breathing.

But then Mike and the doctors were astounded when Tracey's pulse returned, just after birth. Doctors quickly wheeled Tracey into surgery to complete the C-section. Then, while the mom was being operated on, other doctors worked to get the baby breathing again and eventually it came back as well.

Father Claims 'Absolute Miracle'

Tracey and the baby, which the couple named Coltyn Mikel Hermanstorfer, recovered nicely and left the hospital Monday to join Tracey's two other children at home. According to KKTV, doctors still do not know what caused Tracey's cardiac arrest or what brought her back from the brink.

Dr. Martin told Colorado's The Gazette it's rare for a woman to suffer cardiac arrest during pregnancy and far rarer for both mother and baby to survive.

Mike has his own theory.

"There's only one explanation for having either one of them, let along both of them here," Mike told reporters. "It's just an absolute miracle."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events