- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DENVER — A Colorado woman said 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.

Mrs. Hermanstorfer, 33, was being prepped for childbirth at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs on Thursday morning. Her 37-year-old husband was by her side when she began to feel sleepy and laid back in her bed.

“She literally stopped breathing and her heart stopped,” her husband, Mike Hermanstorfer, told the Associated Press. Pandemonium erupted as 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,” Mr. 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, named Coltyn. They handed him to Mr. Hermanstorfer, who said the baby was “absolutely lifeless.”

“My legs went out from underneath me,” Mr. Hermanstorfer said. “I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me.”

The doctors went to work on Coltyn as Mr. Hermanstorfer held him, and soon he began to breath.

“His life began in my hands,” Mr. Hermanstorfer said. “That’s a feeling like none other. Life actually began in the palm of my hands.”

Dr. Stephanie Martin, a maternal-fetal specialist at the hospital, said Mrs. Hermanstorfer’s pulse returned even before she was wheeled out of the room and into surgery. She estimates Mrs. Hermanstorfer had no heartbeat for about four minutes.

“She had no signs of life — no heartbeat, no blood pressure, she wasn’t breathing,” said Dr. Martin, who rushed to Mrs. Hermanstorfer’s room to help. “The baby was, it was basically limp, with a very slow heart rate.”

After their stunning recovery, both mother and the baby appear healthy with no signs of problems, Dr. Martin said.

She said she cannot explain the mother’s cardiac arrest or the recovery.

“We did a thorough evaluation and can’t find anything that explains why this happened,” she said.

Mr. Hermanstorfer credits “the hand of God.”

“We are both believers … but this right here, even a nonbeliever — you explain to me how this happened. There is no other explanation,” he said.

Asked about divine intervention, Dr. Martin said, “Wherever I can get the help, I’ll take it.”

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