Expectant mother Melanie Pritchard didn’t have any complications during pregnancy so it never dawned to her that she would ever experience passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Everybody thought – even her doctors – that she would never make it, but she did. She lived again to tell her story of how prayer and God’s hands and His angels delivered her home safely.
Here’s her full story:
After 39 long weeks, Melanie was getting herself ready to deliver her baby girl. Then she suddenly felt light-headed and somewhat nauseous. She felt that she was going to pass out. The nurse repositioned her and tried to figure ourthe cause of her nausea as her vitals showed that she was fine.
All of a sudden, she slumped to her side and convulsed. Her husband, Doug, who was standing at her bed end, saw how her heart rate and blood pressure flashed to zero. Her unborn child’s heart rate also dropped sharply. Her skin turned a deep blue. She stopped breathing and lost her heart rate. She was clinically dead, with her baby still inside her body. Melanie had suffered cardiac arrest.
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Immediately, doctors signaled Code Blue and she was wheeled to the operating room. Her husband, who followed behind but could not get past the door of the operating room, felt so helpless and afraid. He prayed as he never did before: “God, I know that this is more than I can handle, which means you have a plan and a purpose in this, and I trust you; but please, if it is your will, allow me to hold my wife again.”
By then, family and friends had flocked together and prayed. Texts, emails, Tweets and Facebook posts and statuses flooded social media and soon people – familiar and unfamiliar – were praying for her. For that day alone, Melanie became the most Googled person in Phoenix and was in the top 100 people Twittered about.
Back in the operating room, her medical team worked hard to save both mother and child. Miraculously, they both survived the initial hurdle.
The baby was delivered via C-section. Doug went to see their daughter in the nursery without the slightest idea if his wife was alive or not. When nurses asked him the baby’s name, he tearfully answered, “Gabriella. Heroine of God.”
A nurse from the OR came to tell him that after almost 2 hours of trying to resuscitate his wife, they were able to get a faint heartbeat. Melanie had been without oxygen or a pulse for around 10 minutes. She had most likely had a fatal amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). Doctors were able to stabilize her but were doubtful she would ever survive and encouraged Melanie’s family to say their ‘goodbyes.’
Doug came to his bedside, took hold of his wife’s hand and said: “I love you; I will always love you. Brady and Gabriella are beautiful and love you. If you have any fight left, then fight. Despite my hopes, promise that you will follow your guardian angel wherever he leads you. Where he leads you will be where God needs you.”
Melanie received two blood transfusions and needed to go into DIC, a condition of erratic blood clotting after the doctors who operated on her C-section accidentally cut an artery which caused too much bleeding. Miraculously, Melanie also survived DIC as well.
Her heart failure caused her ejection fraction (which is normally between 55% and 65%) to go down into only 5%. Her heart was barely pumping and she was breathing through a respirator. Doctors thought that even if she survived, the chances are high that she would be neurologically-impaired.
She was transferred to another hospital despite her extreme critical condition. The hospital had an ECMO machine, which works for the heart and lungs. Doctors at the new hospital wanted to perform another surgery to stitch her still open abdomen which could leave her susceptible to infections. Before performing this, they lessened her sedation to more accurately assess her neurological state.
As Doug entered her room with her sister, he saw that Melanie’s eyes were open, searching the entirely new place. Without thinking twice, he called up to her and she looked at him. As she saw him, she began to cry. Doug was relieved knowing that his wife was neither brain-dead nor impaired.
Still worried that I may not survive the operation, Melanie’s family showed her a photo of Gabriella. She could not hold her tears. After that, she was sedated once more for surgery. For the first time, her family felt optimistic despite the slim chances of making it through the surgery.
The surgery turned out to be successful. Miraculous things began to unfold from that point. In less than 24 hours, she was out of all medications, except for pain medication. She was starting to breath on her own, too. Doug was there beside her was she slept. He cried tears of joy and thanked God for His grace.
Melanie doesn’t remember any of this traumatic yet meaningful event in her life but she feels grateful to be alive, and to be with his husband and children. She is thankful for those who prayed for her. She is thankful to her doctors, nurses and blood donors that had sent her and her daughter to full recovery. Above all, she is thankful to God, of whom she feels her life indebted to.