Most peo­ple don’t sur­vive a dy­ing heart or a brain-eat­ing amoeba. Th­ese five were ex­traor­di­nar­ily lucky

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - GRETCHEN VOSS

Five incredible sto­ries of sur­vival that as­ton­ished the med­i­cal world – and will leave you won­der­ing.

She Was “Dead” for 45 Min­utes They lit­er­ally ran her back to the op­er­at­ing room.

Forty-year-old Ruby Grau­pera-Cas­simiro had just had a com­pletely nor­mal C-sec­tion, giv­ing birth to a beau­ti­ful baby girl on Septem­ber 23 last year. But when her med­i­cal team moved her to the re­cov­ery room, she fell un­con­scious. Sud­denly, Ruby – now a mother of two – was in full car­diac ar­rest.

Dr Jor­dan Knurr, her anaes­the­si­ol­o­gist at Boca Ra­ton Re­gional Hospi­tal in Florida, US, im­me­di­ately in­tu­bated Ruby so a ma­chine could breathe for her. He called a code, and about a dozen other doc­tors and nurses crowded into the room, fran­ti­cally giv­ing ad­vanced car­diac life sup­port. “For more than two hours, she was hav­ing life-threat­en­ing heart­beats,” ­Dr Knurr says. Most scary was when Ruby had a pulse­less rhythm – her heart was beat­ing but not pump­ing any blood through­out her body – and doc­tors de­liv­ered con­stant CPR com­pres­sions for 45 min­utes straight to try to get her heart work­ing nor­mally again.

Af­ter about two hours, her

doc­tors knew there was no hope. They brought her ex­tended fam­ily into the room to say good­bye. Af­ter Ruby’s fam­ily ­re­turned to the wait­ing room, where they, along with a few nurses, fran­ti­cally prayed on their knees for a ­dif­fer­ent out­come, the doc­tors stopped pump­ing her chest. They were ready to call her time of death.

“I was sec­onds away from turn­ing off the ven­ti­la­tion ma­chine when one of the nurses shouted, ‘Stop!’” ­Dr Knurr says. “With­out any medicine or CPR, Ruby’s heart be­gan to beat on its own for the first time in two hours. It is just in­de­scrib­able.”

It turned out that some am­ni­otic fluid had leaked into the uterus and trav­elled through Ruby’s blood­stream and to her heart. Called an am­ni­otic fluid em­bolism, it causes an air block in the heart and pre­vents blood from flow­ing. “Th­ese em­bolisms are rare, and we don’t know a lot about them,” Dr Knurr says. “Usu­ally the pa­tient passes away or has sig­nif­i­cant brain dam­age.” (Her doc­tors don’t know what hap­pened to the am­ni­otic de­bris; they as­sume it dis­solved on its own.)

Not only did Ruby live, but “she is in per­fect health. It’s al­most as if this never hap­pened,” says Dr Knurr. “It’s a mir­a­cle. I’m not a highly ­reli­gious per­son, but you just don’t see this hap­pen.” The next morn­ing, Ruby’s breath­ing tube was re­moved. Four days later, she walked out of the hospi­tal with her new­born daugh­ter, Taily – with­out even a bro­ken rib from all the chest com­pres­sions.

“Some­one else was run­ning the show that day; there’s no doubt in my mind,” Ruby says to­day. “I don’t know why God chose me, but I know he gave me this life again for a rea­son.”

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