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Mom's Heart Stops for 20 Minutes—Lives to Tell About It

"Miracle mom," Amy Moore.

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all. Amy Moore, a 38 year-old mother of two suddenly collapsed at work last month and suffered what’s known as “sudden cardiac death.” She was rushed to the hospital. According to the doctors who treated her, she had no heartbeat or pulse for twenty minutes. She was declared legally dead.

But that didn’t stop the doctors from trying a somewhat drastic procedure—one that’s actually proven to be surprisingly effective.

They wrapped Moore in an ice-cold blanket and injected her with “freezing fluids” designed to rapidly reduce her body temperature to 93 degrees—a process known as therapeutic hypothermia. Moore was kept in that state for 48 hours.

Many who experience a cardiac arrest also suffer brain damage brought on by the heart’s inability to provide the brain with blood. By cooling the body, however, the brain can enter a state of dormancy. And as Dr. Michael Sayre, the chairman of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee at the American Heart Association, explained to ABC News, this “gives the brain time to rest and heal.” It essentially buys the doctors time to safely restart the heart.

The idea to use therapeutic hypothermia in such cases came about after medical observation of children who had broken through ice and remained trapped underwater for long periods of time. Such kids often survived without any neurological damage.

Thanks to the therapeutic hypothermia, Moore will survive without any neurological damage, too. Though she’s suffered some memory loss, doctors expect her to make a full recovery. Understandably, Moore wasn’t yet ready to be interviewed in the ABC piece, but the wife and mother looked fantastic as she chatted with her husband and others while watching one of her son’s little league baseball games.

“A really true miracle,” said Dr. Lisa Rose-Jones, who is one of the cardiologists at UNC who treated Moore. “She is a mother, daughter, wife, a friend. When I think what she went through, it’s truly amazing.”

No argument here. Most parents wonder what would happen to their spouse and children should his or her time come sooner than expected. At least this one does. And it seems to me that getting a second chance at life would be sweetest of all in my capacity of parent.

I bet Amy Moore would say the same thing.

Photo: WTVD/ABC News

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