Edita Tracey was eight months pregnant when she began feeling some back pain at the hairdresser's. When the pain spread to her chest, she called an ambulance, Fox29 reports.
At the hospital, the 35-year-old was given tests to determine what was causing her pain. Doctors finally found the seemingly healthy Philadelphia woman had a foot-long rupture in her aorta, the body's largest blood vessel.
High blood pressure was causing the aortic dissection, an extremely risky condition, reports ABC News.
Tracey, who was 36 weeks pregnant, didn't have much time, and was airlifted to another hospital. Two surgical teams waited for her: one to deliver her baby, and the other to try to save her life.
"The last thing I remember is emergency people coming, and that's it. I don't remember anything else," Tracey told Fox29.
Just 30 seconds after being put under, Tracey had a C-section to deliver her baby.
"As soon as mom went to sleep, literally, literally, 30 seconds and that baby was out and screaming," said the heart surgeon, Dr. Omar Lattouf.
The doctors then went to work on performing nine-hour open heart surgery on Tracey, while her husband held their new daughter, Arabella.
"You think about the baby, this should be a joyous occasion. And now your mind goes right back, it goes right back to if she's going to make it. The whole night was up and down," said Tracey's husband, Ken, who rushed to the hospital from a business trip in Chicago.
Dr. Lattouf said it was his most complicated surgery in 30 years of practice.
After a night in the ICU, Tracey had survived her frightening ordeal, and was finally able to hold her new baby.
"I was just happy that I was alive and that our daughter was alive," she told ABC News. "I think that the baby saved my life."
Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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