Over 50 Mercy team members save young mother and witness a miracle
On February 21, Tyesha Gonzalez woke up excited to welcome another beautiful new addition to her family. As planned, she checked into the Mercy Birthing Center at Mercy Regional Medical Center for a scheduled Cesarean section early in the morning. She, along with her mother and family, had been anticipating this day for months.
The delivery team at the Mercy Birthing Center was assembled for what they thought would be a routine C-section. There were no warning signs of the danger to come. Unknown to all, February 21 would be a day that would change their lives.
“As Sr. Stephanie concluded her prayer, Dr. Vargas felt Tyesha’s heart flutter on its own; when everyone in the room witnessed Tyesha’s unaided heartbeat, it was a breathtaking moment.”
Moments after welcoming a healthy baby boy, Tyesha turned to her mom, who was present at the birth, and said “something is wrong.” She immediately passed out and has no recollection of the following events.
The healthy mom was hemorrhaging due to a placenta accreta, which occurs when blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply into the uterine wall. To save her life, Tyesha had to undergo an immediate hysterectomy. In her case, the placenta was attached not only to her uterus, but had adhered to nearby organs, causing massive amounts of blood loss in just a few minutes.
Then, with her son just minutes old, Tyesha’s heart stopped. A special hospital-wide alert
requested all qualified and available medical personnel to respond. What happened next has been called a miracle by the medical team and everyone else who witnessed the events that followed.
Melissa Tornero-Bold, MD, anesthesiologist, led the team, along with two certified registered nurse anesthetists, Gini Stevenson and Dan Cong. Obstetrician Alexander Boye-Doe, MD, assistant obstetrician Peter Harroff, MD, general surgeon Fremio Vargas, MD, and staff from pharmacy, respiratory care, hematology and a number of other departments throughout the hospital responded to the lifesaving code.
“It was a team assembled like no other I had ever seen,” noted Sue Glowacki, director of women’s and children’s services. “In all, more than 50 Mercy employees were directly involved in her care…simply amazing teamwork!”
“While we did many medical interventions to save her life, it would be crazy to assume that the prayer was a coincidence,” contends Dr. Tornero-Bold. “This was a miracle.”
The entire room was focused on one goal – to save this young mother’s life. Dr. Boye-Doe worked quickly to complete the hysterectomy and seal off the blood leaks throughout her body. Her surgery was complicated by massive blood loss and subsequent disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). DIC is when the body’s usual pathways for bleeding and clotting are abnormal, and is a life-threatening emergency. The anesthesia team provided life-saving medications, massive blood transfusion, and led the cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with assistance from cardiologist Scott McCallister, MD, and hematologist Patrick Litam, MD. Julie Ritchie, staff pharmacist, assisted anesthesia with drug preparation during the case.
“I have been on hundreds of codes in my 16 years at Mercy, but this was different,” explained Julie. “I was not completely prepared for what I saw when I entered the room. We were giving medications as quickly as we could and thinking on our feet — all while praying — to keep her alive.”
As quickly as Julie was mixing drugs, Gini was administering blood. “We were going through a bag of blood every five minutes, and I was squeezing the bags really hard to get it in Tyesha’s body in time.”
After the code had lasted over one hour, the team called for a chaplain. Sister Stephanie Thompson, manager of the spiritual care department, was brought to the head of the bed. “I had never been called in to pray in the operating room before,” explains Sr. Stephanie. “I voiced a prayer, expressing the thoughts of everyone in the room. I prayed for healing of the patient, or for safe passage if that was God’s will, and for guidance for the doctors and all who were caring for her.”
Throughout the code, Dr. Vargas had been holding Tyesha’s aorta in his hand, squeezing it gently as needed to allow blood to perfuse her brain and vital organs. As Sr. Stephanie concluded her prayer, Dr. Vargas felt Tyesha’s heart flutter on its own; when everyone in the room witnessed Tyesha’s unaided heartbeat, it was a breathtaking moment.
“While we did many medical interventions to save her life, it would be crazy to assume that the prayer was a coincidence,” contended Dr. Tornero-Bold. “This was a miracle.”
The team continued to work on Tyesha for over seven hours. Tyesha had undergone
more blood loss than most people can withstand, and the amount of medical intervention she required tested the limits of survival. Because of the DIC, her entire blood volume had been replaced over seven times with 40 units of blood, along with 11 packs of fresh frozen plasma and a number of other blood products.
“I don’t understand everything that happened, but I am very grateful to God as I believe it is a miracle that I am here. I thank the Mercy team, my family, friends and everyone who prayed for me” – Tyesha Gonzalez
It was against all odds that a few hours later Tyesha, resting in the ICU on the ventilator for what everyone believed would be the final moments of her life, opened her eyes. Even more amazing was her functionality – when asked if she wanted to see her baby boy, Tyesha nodded “yes.” Her son, Jayden, was quickly brought via incubator to her bedside. Recalls Dr. Tornero-Bold, “Later that same evening, Tyesha had the strength to move toward the incubator and put her hand inside to caress her baby’s face. You could sense that God was in the room.”
The next morning, Tyesha was stabilized enough to be transferred to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. “We were literally out of the quantity of blood that we would need if she began to bleed again from the DIC, and felt that it was safer for her to be transferred,” explained Dr. Tornero-Bold.
Ten days later, Tyesha returned home. Despite feeling “a little tired,” Tyesha is well on the road to recovery, “I don’t understand everything that happened, but I am very grateful to God as I believe it is a miracle that I am here. I thank the Mercy team, my family, friends and everyone who prayed for me,” she says.
Concludes Sue, “None of this would have been possible without the support of LifeShare
Community Blood Services, their staff, and the gracious volunteers who donated their blood. Thanks to their extraordinary help, Mercy never ran out of blood or blood products that helped save Tyesha’s life.”
To pay it forward and celebrate this miracle, the Mercy Birthing Center is hosting a special blood drive for LifeShare on Thursday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All donors will need to bring a photo ID. For donor convenience, appointments are available online at www.lifesharedonor.org. Individuals who wish to make a donation, but are unable to give blood, may direct a gift to the Mercy Resource Mother’s Program, which helps connect local women in need with experienced mothers and services. The Mercy Foundation of Lorain County will be accepting donations of diapers, wipes and other baby products through April 12.