BWH Helps Pregnant Woman and Baby Survive a Cardiac Arrest

BWH Helps Pregnant Woman and Baby Survive a Cardiac Arrest

Even in the best of circumstances, pregnancy can introduce challenges to an expecting mother. For Melissa Fodera Manganiello, pregnancy introduced not only challenges, but life-altering complications.

Melissa was five months pregnant when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. After her husband found her unconscious on the floor, she was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). First responders were able to resuscitate Melissa’s breathing but she remained unresponsive.

“When a patient is resuscitated after cardiac arrest, there is a small window of time to reduce the risk of severe neurological damage,” says BWH critical care cardiologist Benjamin M. Scirica, MD. “Melissa’s unresponsiveness was our signal to begin therapeutic hypothermia, a process that cools the body for 24 hours to prevent further neurological damage,” says Benjamin M. Scirica, MD, a critical care cardiologist at BWH. “Melissa’s case was rare. It was the first time we considered an expectant mother for cooling.”

Using cutting edge procedures, the doctors were able to prevent any further damage, all while keeping a close eye on Melissa’s developing baby.

Melissa woke up just one day after the experimental treatment.

While Melissa doesn’t remember collapsing, she understands that without the fast action of her BWH care team, she and her baby may not have survived.

“The doctors and nurses’ constant care and attention saved my life.” Melissa says. “We feel this to be nothing short of a miracle—I’m thankful for a second chance at life and to be able to bring my baby into this world.”

Today, Melissa is fully recovered, just days away from her due date.

Looking back, Scirica reflects, “It was dramatic, it was emotional, and it’s the reason why we do all this.”