'Miracle' Mom Delivers Baby, Has Open-Heart Surgery

She was 36 weeks pregnant and suffering from what is called aortic dissection

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 23, 2014 6:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – A 35-year-old pregnant mom a month shy of her due date survived a grueling nine-hour, two-team surgery in which she delivered her baby—and underwent open-heart surgery. Edita Tracey tells MyFoxPhilly.com she was at her hair salon last month when her back started to hurt, and when the pain shifted to her chest she called 911: "The last thing I remember is emergency people coming, and that's it." At the hospital, the doctors got to work pinpointing the issue; a CT scan revealed a rare and serious problem: Tracey's aorta, the large blood vessel that pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body, was bulging so badly there was a one-foot tear along it. The condition, known as aortic dissection, can be lethal in seconds—but the full anesthesia she'd need to undergo to repair it could harm the baby.

So two surgical groups teamed up in the hopes of saving both Tracey and her child. The first team delivered the healthy baby girl by C-section within 30 seconds of her going under, and then the cardiac team opened Tracey's chest, drained the blood collecting around her heart and got to work rebuilding her aorta in a highly complicated surgery that took nine hours. Thanks to the surgeons' fast work, the Pennsylvania mom and baby Arabella are now home and doing well. "I think that the baby saved my life," Tracey tells ABC News, which reports a "perfect storm" of conditions seems to have led to her rare condition: Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disease that weakens blood vessels' walls, and preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder characterized by high blood pressure. (Click to read about a woman who went in to get her ovaries removed but delivered a 9-pound baby boy instead.)

Edita Tracey was 36 weeks pregnant and suffering from what is called aortic dissection.
Edita Tracey was 36 weeks pregnant and suffering from what is called aortic dissection.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
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