One Fateful Day
The day that Doug and Melanie Pritchard went to the hospital to welcome their second child into the world, they knew that it was a day that they would never forget. However, they did not know that the coming of their baby would not be the only reason the day would be unforgettable, and they certainly didn’t know that Melanie’s life would hang in the balance of what would happen.
Putting Family First
As a couple, Doug and Melanie Pritchard had always put family first. When they welcomed their first son into their home in Phoenix, Arizona, they felt that their lives were more complete than ever. Melanie, in particular, has always wanted to help families come together, as she spent a lot of time with family organizations and charities.
Preparing For A New Arrival
Doug and Melanie certainly felt great about being parents, but that didn’t keep them from wanting to expand their family further. In 2010, the pair learned that they would be blessed with a second child. Doug and Melanie were excited, not anxious, as they had been through the entire process before when they were first-time parents.
During Melanie’s pregnancy, she and Doug attended all of the usual prenatal meetings and checkups, with no indication whatsoever that any surprises were to be expected. “We thought it was going to be a really run-of-the-mill pregnancy,” Doug later said. However, there were surprises headed their way, indeed.
The Big Day Arrives
When a woman starts getting those real contractions that signal that she’s ready to go into labor, it’s an exciting moment. On July 28, Melanie realized that the baby was coming and it was time to go to the hospital. She called her mom to let her know and got ready to go. However, it would be the last thing that she really remembers about the experience.
So Far, So Good
After Doug and Melanie reached the hospital, she checked in and went to her room. Nurses checked up on her, and she was administered an epidural by the anesthesiologist to help her cope with the expected pain of labor. Everything was going as planned. Her water had broke, her contractions were as expected, and things seemed fine.
An Ominous Moment
As things sometimes do, everything transformed from good to bad in what seemed like an instant. Melanie told Doug that she wasn’t feeling well, which is always a concern with a woman in labor. But things got really scary when she slumped over to one side and started convulsing. Doug was frightened, shocked, and horrified.
A Medical Emergency
What had begun as a routine birth had progressed to become a bona fide medical emergency in mere moments. Doug said that the whole thing was a whirlwind of scary signs and activity. Melanie’s monitors were flashing like crazy as all of the vital numbers dropped precipitously. To Doug’s horror, his wife wasn’t breathing. The doctors rushed her off to a nearby operating room.
Racing Against The Clock
During moments like these, doctors must think very quickly in order to avoid a tragedy. The surgeons decided that first, they would have to make sure that the baby was delivered and healthy. After that, they would be able to direct their full attention to Melanie’s medical condition. During the emergency C-section, they discovered that Melanie’s amniotic sac was leaking fluid, causing her organs to shut down.
Fighting To Save Melanie
The condition Melanie was fighting is called an amniotic fluid embolism, which is essentially an allergic reaction that can cause problems such as leaking fluid and eventually, the shutting down of the patient’s heart and lungs. Obviously, this was not a good situation, and it became clear that Melanie was now fighting for her very life.
Walking The Tightrope
Doctors had an extra difficult job because they had just had to perform a C-section to deliver Melanie’s baby. The procedure caused her to lose over a gallon of blood and put her in an even worse position physically. In fact, Doug was told at one point that his wife was clinically dead on the operating table.
Sadly, the doctors were not optimistic about Melanie’s chances. They had to be honest with Doug about her chances of making it out of the day alive. They told him that they did not expect her to survive. As Doug would later say, “they thought there was absolutely no way that she could come back.” Doug had only been married for three years. Would he soon be a widower with two children to raise alone?
A Ray Of Light
Sometimes, a ray of light comes peeking through dark storm clouds, and that’s what Doug and Melanie’s new baby was for him during these terrifying moments. The baby girl had blonde hair and blue eyes, like her mother. “It was probably the most bittersweet moment I’ve ever felt in my life,” Doug said afterward.
Call Her Gabriella
There was the matter of Doug and Melanie’s daughter’s name to attend to. Doug chose Gabriella, which means “heroine of God.” Doug and Melanie were a very religious couple, and Doug was really leaning on his faith during this terrible day. He had already asked all of his friends and family to pray for Melanie’s safety.
Thousands Were Praying
Social media has changed the way the world works in many ways, and that was never more evident than when Doug spread the word that Melanie was fighting for her life. Little did Doug know that the story of her fight would go viral. Not only were their friends and family members praying for her but so were thousands of strangers that were pulling for her to come through it alive.
Not Out Of The Woods
After losing all vital signs for a scary moment, Melanie had survived that initial brush with death. However, doctors warned that she was not out of the woods yet. In fact, she had not regained consciousness and doctors couldn’t promise that she ever would. She was resuscitated, and Doug continued to pray that his wife would live to meet their daughter.
A Second Opinion
Melanie received yet another medical opinion from her own brother, who is a cardiac, thoracic surgeon. Orazio Amabile was reviewing his sister’s files, but couldn’t find anything that the other doctors may have missed. He noted with a great deal of dismay that she was undergoing a cardiovascular collapse. “You don’t survive stuff like that,” he said later.
Refusing To Accept It
In tears, Melanie’s brother Orazio continued to look over her files. He said that even with a situation that was extremely dire, he wouldn’t accept that she might die. “I never thought it was going to be my little sister that was going to be the first one to go, you know,” he said. It was a tense time for everyone.
Not Going To Say Goodbye
After yet another turn for the worse, doctors were convinced that Melanie’s time was just about up. In fact, they even went so far as to tell her family members that they should say goodbye to her. Doug got the chance to see her, but he didn’t say goodbye. Instead, he said to his unconscious spouse that she would have to fight if she wanted to survive.
A Miracle In The Making
What happened next began events that are still being talked and debated about. Melanie started to recover and even regained consciousness. Before she was taken to emergency surgery, Doug got to talk to her. He told her that he loved her and showed her a photo of Gabriella, their newborn baby. Was it Doug’s words that helped her come back to life?
A Magical Moment
Although they didn’t have much time to talk, Doug made the most of their moment together. After all, he had not known if he’d even get to talk to his wife again. Later on, Doug said that he told her how proud he was of her and that he loved her. “I wanted her to know that I was there, that I loved her so much,” he said.
Against All Odds
Melanie’s return to consciousness was certainly a big victory for someone who had been clinically dead not long before. However, she now had to face emergency surgery. Doctors told Doug that in all likelihood, she would end up needing a heart transplant, or even a heart and lung transplant. “They thought that she would have some serious neurological impairment,” he explained.
While researching her files, Melanie’s brother found that her condition had been exacerbated by all of the internal bleedings from her emergency C-section. Doctors found a cut in her uterine artery during the second operation. She had lost about five liters of blood, Doug said, which is a staggering amount.
The Prayers Continue
Melanie was certainly in the fight of her life, but she was far from forgotten on the outside world. Posts about her medical struggles continued to spread in viral fashion, with the hashtag #PrayForMelanie being used. Doug said later on that they heard from people all over the world, including Christians from the Middle East and China.
Melanie Comes Through
Fortunately for Doug and Melanie, the doctors did an amazing job, and Melanie came through the whole experience. Doctors noted with surprise that she was soon able to breathe on her own and had escaped what had seemed like certain death. Melanie recovered enough to go home within a week, but she still remembered very little.
Dazed And Confused
After the whole saga was over, many people were curious about how she coped with the experience. She would later explain that although she woke up with “this incredible peace,” she still didn’t really know what had happened. She asked doctors why she was there and asked where her new daughter (nicknamed Ella) was.
Back To Normal
Everyone was surprised with how quickly the Pritchards’ lives got back to normal. Melanie was very fortunate in that she did not have any lingering side effects after the whole ordeal. The Pritchards were certainly thankful to the doctors, but Doug, in particular, thinks that even the talented experts had a little help. “I think it’s very clear that God answers prayers,” he said.
This Nurse Was Shocked
One of the nurses on duty during Melanie’s fight with death was Megan Burns. Megan was amazed by what transpired that day. She said afterward that Ella is a totally healthy baby, which she found to be remarkable. “I’m a different nurse having gone through this, as well,” Megan said. “It definitely showed me the power of prayer.”
In Awe Of Her Recovery
Melanie’s brother, a doctor himself, was in awe of his sister’s survival and rapid recovery. “That’s a miracle that she had so many prayers helping her out,” he would later say. It was clear to him that there were reasons for her medical problems that day, but the fact that she was able to survive was harder for him to explain.
Melanie was simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she received. Once she was told about how many people had prayed for her to recover, she was overcome with emotion. She wasn’t even able to really comprehend the sheer amount of support she had gotten during that difficult day. “I believed in the power of prayer, but now that I’ve lived through the power of prayer, I believe it a hundred times more,” Melanie said.