DENVER — A Colorado woman says a Christmas miracle brought her and her newborn son back from the brink of death after her heart stopped beating during childbirth and the baby was delivered showing no signs of life.
"I got a second chance in life," Tracy Hermanstorfer said.
Hermanstorfer, 33, was being prepped for childbirth at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs on Dec. 24. Her husband, Mike Hermanstorfer, 37, was by her side when she began to feel sleepy and lay back in her bed.
"She literally stopped breathing and her heart stopped," said Mike Hermanstorfer. Doctors and nurses tried to revive her with chest compressions and a breathing tube, but nothing worked.
"I was holding her hand when we realized she was gone," Mike Hermanstorfer said. "My entire life just rolled out."
Doctors told him, "We're going to take your son out now. We have been unable to revive her and we're going to take your son out," he recalled.
After the Cesarean section, some of the team rushed his wife to the operating room while the others attended to the baby. They handed him to Mike Hermanstorfer, who said the baby was "absolutely lifeless."
The doctors went to work on baby Coltyn as Hermanstorfer held him, and soon he began to breathe.
"His life began in my hands," Hermanstorfer said. "That's a feeling like none other. Life actually began in the palm of my hands."
Stephanie Martin, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the hospital, said Tracy Hermanstorfer's pulse returned even before she was wheeled out of the room and into surgery. She estimates Hermanstorfer had no heartbeat for about four minutes.
After their stunning recovery, both mother and baby appear healthy with no signs of problems, Martin said.