Erica Nigrelli, a Texas high school teacher, was 36 weeks pregnant when her heart stopped beating, causing her to collapse inside a co-worker’s classroom at Elkins High School.
That’s when the school nurse, her assistant, and the school’s athletic trainer sprang into action and began to administer CPR. The trio of lifesavers also used a defibrillator to jumpstart Nigrelli’s heart.
“I wasn’t scared … I knew what I had to do and my team was incredible,” said school nurse Jennifer Longoria.
Trainer June Tomlin added that she “got the scissors and cut off [Nigrelli's] shirt.”
Assistant Maxine Reeves said Nigrelli’s husband Nathan was “freaking out” (understandably so), saying, “Save my wife, save my wife.”
Their efforts managed to keep Nigrelli alive long enough for paramedics to arrive, but baby Elayna would need to be taken immediately via emergency C-section.
When doctors made the call to proceed, Nigrelli’s heart was still not beating, resulting in the postmortem delivery.
“There were two lives hanging in the balance the whole time,” said Nathan Nigrelli, who in one day went from being a husband and expecting father to almost losing wife and daughter.
Despite the stress levels, Nathan did manage to call 911. “My wife is having a seizure,” he said in comments reported by KHOU. “She’s on the floor … Oh my God! She’s pregnant and she’s foaming. Unresponsive.”
According to Click2Houston, which first reported on the story, Erica was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle thickens. Erica Nigrelli later explained, “Nine times out of 10 most people die from the initial collapse … It was literally a ticking time bomb.”
The child is now three months old and weighs nine pounds. Doctors expect her to be taken off oxygen as soon as next week.
Missouri City, Texas, the town where Elkins is located, honored Longoria, Tomlin, and Reeves, at a city council meeting on Monday night.
“Thankful is not a strong enough word for what they’ve done for us,” Erica said. Here’s baby Elayna:
It wasn’t clear what technique was used to bring Erica Nigrelli back from death, but, earlier this month, an Australian man who suffered cardiac arrest was resuscitated thanks to a method using both a mechanical CPR machine performing chest compressions and a portable heart-lung machine keeping oxygen and blood flowing within the body. The man was technically dead 40 minutes before life was restored.
Do you think what happened to Erica Nigrelli was modern tech, modern miracle, or a little of both?
[Image via Facebook]