WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A North Carolina woman gave birth to a baby girl just five days after suffering what doctors described as a rare type of heart attack, officials said.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said in a news release on Friday that Brittany Little, 29, and eight months pregnant with her third child, suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection on Nov. 3. It’s described as a type of heart attack that occurs when the lining of the artery starts to tear and unravel.
According to the news release, cardiologists at a hospital in Hickory performed emergency stenting of the left main coronary artery. However, Little went into cardiac arrest during the procedure and officials decided to send her 73 miles (117 kilometers) east to Wake Forest Baptist.
“About two-thirds of her heart muscle had been jeopardized, which created a lethal condition,” said Dr. Michael A. Kutcher, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Health.
As soon as Little arrived in Wake Forest Baptist’s cardiovascular ICU, her cardiac condition was stabilized and obstetrics nurses monitored her unborn child’s heart around the clock.
Kutcher and a team of cardiology and high-risk pregnancy experts met regularly over the next few days to determine the best course of action.
“We were faced with a dilemma – interventions for the mother’s heart could affect the baby and interventions for the baby could affect the mother’s heart,” Kutcher said. “When I went to bed at night, I was thinking of Brittany and her baby, and when I woke up, I was thinking of them.”
The team consensus was to perform a cesarean section in a lab where doctors could perform advanced cardiac intervention if the mother had cardiac arrest during the delivery.
On Nov. 8, Little gave birth to a healthy baby girl without any cardiac events for either the mother or the child. They have returned home and doctors say they are doing well.
“There were a lot of people in that room to make sure Nova and I were safe and made it out alive and I will never forget how well everyone worked together,” Little said.
“Hearing a newborn baby cry was such a wonderful sound that cardiologists do not often get to hear,” Kutcher said. “I am sure that everyone involved will remember this moment for a long time. It was very special to be part of a team that helped bring a new life into the world, safely, under dire circumstances.”