Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

'Dead mother and son' alive after Christmas 'miracle'


Tracey and Mike Hermanstorfer and Dr. Stephanie Martin on the experience

A mother from Colorado who doctors said had died while giving birth to her son, has said it is a Christmas miracle that both she and the boy are alive.

Tracey Hermanstorfer's heart stopped beating and her son Coltyn appeared lifeless after the Caesarean section on Christmas Eve (24 December).

However a few minutes after he was delivered, both began breathing again.

Dr Stephanie Martin told Good Morning America she could not explain how the pair survived.

Mrs Hermanstorfer and her husband Mike told the American television show that their baby was now healthy and they were doing "good" following the drama at Colorado Springs Memorial Hospital.

'Heart attack'

The couple, who already had two children, had to go into the hospital seven weeks earlier than planned.

Her husband, 37, said his wife was tired after receiving an epidural during the labour but after closing her eyes, she "wasn't waking up".

She stopped breathing and she is believed to have suffered a heart attack before her heart stopped beating entirely.

Dr Martin said she was called in and the outlook was grim since in most situations like this, "despite the best efforts of the team", the mother was often unable to be revived.

She said doctors then tried to focus on delivering the baby but when he was born he was "limp" and "completely lifeless".

Dr Stephanie Martin
Dr Stephanie Martin said she could not explain the case

Mr Hermanstorfer told the Associated Press news agency: "I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me."

Dr Martin said she did not have a "great explanation" for why Mrs Hermanstorfer's heartbeat returned.

"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," she said.

The doctors were then able to resuscitate the baby.

Despite tests, she said doctors were still not sure about what had happened.

However Mrs Hermanstorfer and her husband Mike have said they believed it was down to a miracle.

She said: "I got a second chance in life."

Dr Martin said she would take help from wherever it came.

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