Exclusive: Formerly 'Dead' Mom, Baby 'Doing Good'

"Miracle" mom talks about dying, coming back to life with baby on Christmas Eve.

December 29, 2009, 1:28 PM

Dec. 30, 2009 — -- The so-called miracle mother and baby are "doing good" after doctors believed both had died during labor only to come back to life minutes later, the woman said today.

"Oh, we're doing good. I'm ready to show the world," Tracey Hermanstorfer told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview as she sat alongside husband Mike and held their healthy baby boy, Coltyn.

Mike Hermanstorfer said his wife just wanted to rest her eyes after she received a local anesthetic while in labor at Colorado Spring's Memorial Hospital Christmas Eve.

"That's when the nightmare started," he said. "She started going numb. ... She closed her eyes to take a nap, and she wasn't waking up."

He said she turned "gray as a ghost" as she stopped breathing, suffering from apparent cardiac arrest.

Dr. Stephanie Martin, director of maternal fetal medicine at Memorial Hospital, responded to a frantic, emergency "code blue," or patient requiring immediate resuscitation, and said that 30 to 45 seconds after she entered the room, Hermanstorfer's heart stopped beating.

"Unfortunately, in most of these situations, despite the best efforts of the team, Mom is not able to be revived," Martin told "Good Morning America."

Martin said it became clear that Hermanstorfer was not responding to any revival efforts after several minutes, so the team turned its focus to trying to save the baby by performing a Caesarean section without anesthetic. That's when doctors were hit with more bad news.

"When I delivered [the baby], he was limp, completely lifeless," Martin said.

Then something happened that Martin still has trouble explaining.

"As soon as I delivered the baby, the mother's heartbeat came back," Martin said. "Somewhere between four and five minutes she had been without heart rate and had stopped breathing a minute or two prior to her heart stopping."

Doctors quickly wheeled Hermanstorfer into surgery to complete the C-section. Then, as they operated on the mother, other doctors worked to get the baby breathing again and were eventually able to resuscitate him, all right in front of his stunned father.

Father Claims 'Absolute Miracle'

Martin said delivering the baby could have relieved Hermanstorfer's body of the stress of labor or unblocked previously clogged blood flow to the rest of her body. Aside from such theories, Martin said, she has trouble explaining what others are calling a miracle.

"I don't have a great explanation," Martin said. "From my personal perspective, I'll take help wherever I can get it."

The mother and son, named Coltyn Mikel Hermanstorfer, recovered nicely and left the hospital Monday to join the family's two other children at home.

After running a battery of tests on Hermanstorfer, doctors still do not know what caused her cardiac arrest or what brought her back from the brink.

It's rare for a woman to suffer cardiac arrest during pregnancy and rarer still for both mother and baby to survive, Martin said.

Dad has his own theory.

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

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