Many couples cherish the day when they are able to add a new life to the world. Becoming a family is a huge landmark in every new parent’s life, and usually, it’s a call for joy and thankfulness. But what if there are complications regarding the pregnancy and the mother’s life is at risk? That was what happened when Melanie Pritchard gave birth to her second baby.
A Special Day
When Doug and Melanie Pritchard headed to the hospital as Melanie was preparing to give birth to their second child, there was no indication of the trouble that was yet to come. However, things can turn bad quickly sometimes, and it would turn out that only some well-timed words of inspiration would save their special day…and Melanie’s life.
All About Family
Doug and Melanie Pritchard, along with their first son, were a family of three based in Phoenix, Arizona. Melanie was very active in family organizations and charities throughout the community. However, she always put her family first and made sure that she had time to spend with her husband and son, as well.
Ready For Baby Number 2
Although Doug and Melanie were quite happy with their little family, they felt the urge to add to it. In 2010, they prepared for a wonderful event – the coming of their second child. As they were already parents, they were much more relaxed the second time around and didn’t have many of the common concerns of first-time parents.
No Bumps Expected
There were no indications that Doug and Melanie would experience any bumps in the road during their pregnancy. “We thought it was going to be a really run-of-the-mill pregnancy,” explained Doug later in an interview. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how things would turn out to be.
The moment when contractions begin is always a very exciting time for new parents, and at that point on July 28, Melanie had no reason to expect that anything would go wrong. She called her mom to let her know she was going into labor, but that’s the last thing she would remember about the experience.
When Melanie arrived at the hospital, everything was going as expected. Doctors gave her an epidural to help minimize the pain of labor as she advanced. Her water broke, and by all accounts, it seemed as if the baby was ready to come, with no indication of anything bad happening.
Not Feeling Well
It wasn’t long before Doug started to become concerned about Melanie’s well-being. He noted that Melanie started to complain that she wasn’t feeling well. The real kicker, however, was when Melanie started to slump over to one side. Doug said that her eyes then rolled back and she started convulsing in a horrifying moment.
The next several moments were a whirlwind of frightening developments. Melanie’s monitors started to flash, and the readings quickly dropped. Doug saw that his wife wasn’t breathing. Her doctors unplugged the bed and rushed her into an operating room for emergency treatment.
Things Get Worse
The medical team knew that they had to move quickly to save Doug and Melanie’s baby. Then they could deal with Melanie’s health condition. They performed an emergency C-section and found that her organs were shutting down due to a fluid leak from Melanie’s amniotic sack.
A Rare Allergic Reaction
Melanie was suffering from an amniotic fluid embolism. This is a rare allergic reaction during pregnancy which leads to a person’s heart and lungs shutting down. Melanie was a strong pro-life supporter, but now she was fighting for her own life. Doctors had to work quickly if they wanted to save the mother.
Doctors had to work very quickly, and the C-section proved to be too much for Melanie’s body to handle. She lost over a gallon of blood due to internal bleeding during the procedure. As doctors worked to extract the baby, Doug discovered in horror that his wife was clinically dead.
The doctors did not think that Melanie had a chance to survive. “They thought there was absolutely no way that she could come back,” Doug would later say. Thoughts raced through Doug’s head. He had only been married for three years and was now a father of two. What if she didn’t make it?
If there was one good thing to come of these scary moments, it’s that the doctors were able to safely deliver the couple’s new baby girl. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, just like Melanie. “It was probably the most bittersweet moment I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Doug, who still wasn’t sure if his wife would survive.
A Meaningful Name
Doug leaned heavily on his faith during this conflicting time, and he named his daughter Gabriella, which translates to “heroine of God.” Doug knew that he had to have faith in order to get through this trying experience. He asked his friends and family to pray for all of them.
The Story Goes Viral
Even as Melanie’s life still hung in the balance, the Pritchard’s story quickly went viral. The couple’s friends shared the story and asked for prayers and thousands of people, even strangers that didn’t know the couple, were pulling for Melanie to survive the ordeal.
Melanie had survived her experience at the brink of death, but she still wasn’t assured to regain consciousness again. The doctors resuscitated her, but they weren’t sure if she would ultimately live to meet her new baby. Doug prayed, pleading for his wife’s life.
Melanie’s Brother Arrives
Melanie’s brother, Orazio Amabile (pictured), is a cardiac thoracic surgeon. He began reviewing Melanie’s files upon arrival in hopes of finding something the doctors may have missed. He described the 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.”
He Didn’t Want To Bury His Sister
Orazio kept looking through her files over and over. There must be something the doctors missed. “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 told CBN. After reviewing her file countless times, he discovered something that may just help save his sister’s life.
Another Turn For The Worse
Unfortunately, things would take another turn for the worse and doctors saw the writing on the wall. Melanie wasn’t going to make it. The doctors expressed their condolences but told the family members that they should say their goodbyes. Doug told his unconscious wife, “If you have any fight left in you, then fight!”
Making A Comeback
Maybe the words somehow resonated with Melanie, because she started to recover and regained consciousness. She still had to go through an emergency surgery, but Doug was able to tell her he loved her and even show her a photo of their new daughter, Gabriella.
It’s A Miracle
Doug was overwhelmed with joy that his wife was making a recovery. “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,” Doug told CBN.
Prep For Surgery
Even though Melanie had begun to regain consciousness, she still had to undergo emergency surgery to fix the underlying problem. “The chances were very high that she was going to need a heart and/or heart-lung transplant,” Doug said. “They thought that she would have some serious neurological impairment.”
The Medical Reason
While searching her files, Melanie’s brother had discovered that Melanie’s poor condition was a result of internal bleeding from the emergency c-section. During her second operation, doctors discovered the uterine artery had been cut open, and she was losing lots of blood. “They took out of her belly 5 liters of blood,” Doug told CBN. “To put that in perspective, you or I have 5 liters of blood in our entire body.”
Thousands Reached Out
While Melanie was in surgery, her husband, family, and friends began to pray. They also continued to post on social media asking people to send their prayers. Thousands of people tweeted the hashtag “Pray For Melanie.” “We heard feedback from Christians in the Middle East and Christians in the underground church in China that were sharing their prayers with us,” Doug said,
Fortunately for the entire family, Melanie’s operation was a success. She was able to breathe on her own, and the doctors helped her miraculously escape death. Within a week, Melanie had recovered enough to go back home. She didn’t remember a thing and had to ask the doctors what happened.
She Recounts Her First Memory
Melanie woke up after her surgery with much uncertainty. “I woke up with this incredible peace. My first memory was just asking them what happened, you know,” Melanie recounted to CBN. “It was just waking up like in confusion going, ‘What—wait—why am I here. Where’s Ella?”
What’s really remarkable is that Melanie did not suffer any ongoing side effects from her battle with death. There were many people to thank, including the incredible doctors that saved her life, but Doug knew exactly who to credit. “I think it’s very clear that God answers prayers,” he said.
Even The Nurses Believe
One nurse on duty that day was Megan Burns (pictured). Burns feels she learned a valuable lesson that day in the ER, “Ella, who is a little angel, she’s completely healthy,” Burns told CBN. “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.” But, she wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
The Doctors Are Convinced
Even though Melanie’s brother was able to find a logical, medical explanation for the downward spiral of Melanie’s health, he still believes that the thousands of prayers helped her get through. “That’s a miracle that she had so many prayers helping her out,” he said. He is amazed that not only was she able to pull through but she is also 100% recovered.
Power Of Prayer
Melanie feels the same way that Doug does about the experience. When she realized what had happened, she cried, wondering how people that didn’t even know her could care so much. “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,” she said.