On Christmas Eve, 2009, Mike and Tracy Hermanstorfer from Colorado were not gathered around the tree, celebrating with their two sons. Instead, the family was at the hospital, looking forward to the birth of a new family member: a baby boy.
The hospital staff frantically attempted to resuscitate Tracy by administering chest compressions. After four minutes, Tracy was still unresponsive. Dr. Stephanie Martin, director of maternal-fetal medicine at Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs, knew that they had to act quickly. "We call it a four-minute rule," said Martin. "I knew that if Tracy was not resuscitated by four to five minutes after her heart stopped, [the baby's] chances for brain injury began to increase dramatically." An unborn baby has a 95% chance of survival if it is removed from its mother within five minutes of a cardiac arrest.
Doctors began to prepare for an emergency C-section. A few minutes later, Tracy's baby boy, Coltyn, was born limp, but with a very faint pulse. Tracy's husband Mike thought he might also lose his new son that day, but after a few minutes of careful attention from doctors, some color came to Coltyn's skin, and the baby began to wail.
Then something incredible happened: shortly after baby Coltyn's birth, to the absolute astonishment of doctors, Tracy's pulse came back. The young mother opened her eyes, and she began to breathe on her own. While there are certainly theories, it is still unclear what caused her heart to stop.“We did a thorough evaluation and can’t find anything that explains why this happened,” Dr. Martin said. For Mike Hermanstorfer, it was a day he would certainly never forget: “My legs went out from underneath me,” he said. “I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me.”
Tracy Hermanstorfer is still frightened when she thinks about what happened to her. But the most important thing was that every member of this family went home from the hospital healthy and happy. Tracy plans to tell Coltyn all about his birth when he is a bit older. “I’ll tell him everything... that he’s my miracle baby. That he had a tough time coming into this world, that he’s my miracle baby and he’s still here with us,” she said.