Monroe mother meets son 111 days after giving birth, having heart surgery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doctors and nurses at Carolinas Healthcare System made a bold decision that helped to save the lives of a mother and her unborn son.

Danielle Gaither, 31, was pregnant and went to the emergency department more than three months ago with chest pains caused by a high-risk medical condition.

“Danielle was very sick when she came into the hospital,” one doctor said. “She had ruptured her main artery to the heart, called the aorta, and without that, there's no circulation to all the organs in the body."

Doctors said she was minutes away from losing her own life and had a less than 1 percent chance of surviving in the operating room.

"We had to act very quickly and work with incredible teamwork to get her to the point where we could have a patient at the end," a doctor said.

"The gold standard of treating aortic dissection is circulatory arrest, which is a surgical technique that stops blood circulation," said Dr. Jeko Madjarov. "But Danielle's son needed blood flow in order to survive. This case was extremely rare."

The team at Carolinas Healthcare System made the call to perform two surgeries at the same time. Doctors delivered her baby and she received emergency open heart surgery. It took a team of more than 15 nurses and doctors and six hours in the operating room.

Gaither's son, K.V., was born prematurely but is now a healthy baby at home with his family.

Gaither met him for the first time in June, 111 days after he was born.

"It was a miracle that I had my baby," Gaither said. "I'm glad that I'm here and I thank Dr. Madjarov and the team, along with God, for saving my life."

Gaither and her family, along with her doctors, talked about the life-saving surgery Monday afternoon.

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