Science

Technically-dead mom gives birth to miracle baby…before coming back to life

By Randell Suba , May 25, 2013 10:55 AM EDT

Every baby is a miracle but Elayna Nigrelli redefined that. The 3-month old baby was born while Erica Nigrelli, her mother, was technically dead.

On Feb. 15,  36-week pregnant Nigrelli was going through her day as usual, teaching high school students in Missouri City, Texas when she fainted at around 9 am.

Her husband, Nathan Nigrelli, who was just two classrooms away, rushed to call 911.  

"Erica was lying on the floor, she was foaming and making gurgling sounds and just staring up," he told a CNN affiliate during an interview.

"My wife is pregnant. She's having a seizure! The baby's due in three weeks," the husband recalled how he reported the situation to the emergency services.

Co-teachers and the school nurse also came immediately to help. Maxine Reeves, June Tomlin, and Jennifer Longoria performed CPR and used a defibrillator in an attempt to jumpstart the heart of the pregnant woman.

The pregnant teacher was rushed to the hospital by the paramedics but she had no pulse when she got there. The doctors performed an emergency Caesarian section to save baby Elayna.

"The doctors told me that Erica delivered post-mortem because she did not have a heartbeat when they took the baby out. But I married a fighter, and now I had a baby girl who was a fighter, too," the husband and proud father told KHOU 11.

The doctors then worked on Erica Nigrelli and were able to make her heart beat again. The 32-year-old mother was put on an induced coma for five days and later was diagnosed with a serious heart problem known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This means that her heart muscle was thickening making it work harder to push the blood out of its chambers. She was given a pacemaker to keep her heart beating correctly.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is also known as "Athlete's Heart". The thickening walls cause abnormal rhythms and eventually causes the organ to fail without warning. There have been reported cases of Athlete's Heart in Texas and the condition has claimed lives of teenage athletes in the state. These incidents led to the installation of defibrillators in schools. This policy eventually saved Erica and Elayna Nigrelli.

"That's my pacemaker scar so I essentially have a bionic heart," the mother of the miracle baby exclaimed pointing to a 3-inch scar on the chest.  

Baby Elayna was also put in intensive care for 14 days. The family appeared on "Early Start" on Friday. The baby is now healthy and weighs 8 pounds. She still remains on oxygen and is scheduled to undergo therapy.

The City of Missouri recognized the quick thinking and action of Nigrelli's co-workers and presented them with an award for their exemplary action.

"God is good," the mother recalled while holding her baby.

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