Melanie Pritchard: A Miracle Mom
By Jeremy Callahan
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“We thought it was just going to be really the run-of-the-mill pregnancy and birth, labor and delivery.” says Doug Pritchard. “Her OB/GYN came in, and saw that she was progressing. And broke her water to try to speed up that as well. And Melanie started complaining that she didn’t feel well. Then I see her kind of slump over to one side. Her eyes roll back, and she starts convulsing.”
Doug continues: “I look over at her monitors and everything starts flashing zero. She’s not breathing. They call Code Blue.”
Meghan Burns, R.N was there. “The whole medical team came in and quickly unplugged the bed and rolled her out the door.”
Melanie Pritchard was rushed to the operating room where a team of doctors performed an emergency c-section. Melanie was dying from an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare allergic reaction during pregnancy that caused her heart and lungs to shut down. A well known pro-life activist, Melanie was now fighting for her own life.
“My wife was clinically dead when they delivered my daughter.” Doug remembers, “They thought there was absolutely no way that she could come back. That she looked deader than dead. We were going through an emotional rollercoaster.”
“My first thought was, ‘I’m a widower.’ And we’d only been married 3 years.”
“I just remember sitting down, we just held hands and we prayed and we just pleaded with God that He may just bring her back.”
The next 48 hours were long, and difficult. Doctors were able to resuscitate Melanie and moved her to the ICU. As she lay unconscious, Doug was allowed to see his new daughter for the first time. “I look at her and she’s got blond hair and blue eyes, just like her mother. Not at all like me! And the nurse asked me what her name is. Without hesitation, I said, ‘Gabriella, the heroine of God.’ It was probably the most bitter sweet moment I’ve ever felt in my life. The bittersweet part of it is that Melanie may not be there, and that I may have to raise this little princess on my own.”
Meanwhile, Melanie’s brother, a cardiac thoracic surgeon arrived at the hospital and began reviewing her case. Orazio Amabile, M.D. describes her situation, “They got her to the ICU and she was extremely sick. And she wasn’t getting better. She was getting worse. She was in a state of cardiovascular collapse. You don’t survive stuff like that.”
“They had asked us to say our goodbyes. Because they didn’t think she was going to make it through. I remember asking her vividly, ‘If you have any fight left in you, then fight!’”
Dr. Amabile would not believe his sister was dying. “I never thought it was going to be my little sister that was going to be the first one to go, you know. I wouldn’t accept her dying.”
He soon discovered that Melanie’s low blood pressure was the result of internal bleeding from the emergency c-section. Doctors rushed her back to the operating room.
Melanie’s brother explains the cause of her condition. “They found a uterine artery that was just wide open, just draining her blood out.”
Doug describes the serious situation. “They took out of her belly 5 liters of blood. To put that in perspective, you or I have 5 liters of blood in our entire body.”
Twenty-four hours after she was declared clinically dead, Melanie regained consciousness. She was prepped for transport to the Mayo Clinic for yet another surgery. Doug remembers, “Her eyes welled up with tears and I ran over and I grabbed her hand and I held it tight and I was like, ‘How are you doing? You’re doing great, I’m so proud of you.’ I wanted her to know that I was there, that I loved her so much. Her sister came back with a Blackberry that had a picture of Ella on it. It was terribly important to us because had she not survived this surgery, we wanted her to be able to see Ella.”
Melanie arrived at Mayo Clinic with a bleak prognosis as doctors began the surgery to close her abdomen.
Doug knew the complicated situation Melanie was facing. “The chances were very high that she was going to need a heart and/or heart-lung transplant. They thought that she would have some serious neurological impairment.”
By now, many friends and family had gathered at the hospital to pray for Melanie.
Doug recalls, “I remember looking around and seeing everybody just, at one point or another, just hang their heads in prayer. A lot of her friends that were at the hospital were providing updates for people via Facebook and Twitter and sending the prayer chain, so to speak.”
Thousands tweeted “Pray for Melanie” –which even made Twitter’s top 100 list in 2010!
Doug was amazed. “We heard feedback from Christians in the Middle East and Christians in the underground church in China that were sharing their prayers with us.”
Melanie’s brother recognized the blessing. “That’s a miracle that she had so many prayers helping her out.”
Within 24 hours of her final surgery, Melanie was breathing on her own and weaned off most medication. Within a week, she was released to go home.
Melanie tells her story. “I woke up with this incredible peace. My first memory was just asking them what happened, you know. It was just waking up like in confusion going, ‘What—wait—why am I here. Where’s Ella?’”
“The crazy thing is now she’s totally normal. She’s got no residual effects; she’s got no neurological effects, no cardiac effects. She’s as healthy as they can be,” marvels her brother.
Meghan Burns learned a valuable lesson that day. “And Ella, who is a little angel, she’s completely healthy. There’s absolutely no problem with her. It’s incredible. I’m a different nurse having gone through this as well. It definitely showed me the power of prayer.”
Melanie says, “I don’t remember anything that happened in the hospital. This was tragic and traumatic for so many—so many other people were praying like crazy. I remember just weeping and crying and thinking, ‘How could these people love me so much, like a stranger even? Wow. This is so amazing.’” All I care about is having enough air in my lungs to tell my husband how much he means to me. And just really, you know, being present to my friends and to my family.”
“Her recovery’s a miracle. Her survival was a miracle,” says Doug, “I think it’s very clear that God answers prayers.”
Melanie was a pray-er before any of this happened. “I had always prayed that the Lord would protect me in pregnancy and childbirth. Because I thought with all the work that I do in the pro-life movement, if the evil one wanted to attack me that would be the spot he would do it.”
“I believed in the power of prayer, but now that I’ve lived through the power of prayer, I believe it a 100 times more.”
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