Personal Story: A Miraculous Entrance

Just four days before her due date, Susan Eley was sitting pretty: Her second pregnancy had been nearly perfect. Her Virtua obstetrician, Kristen McCullen, MD, says: “Susan sailed through pregnancy number two - it had been an uneventful and easy nine months.

Then, on the morning of October 12, 2012, Susan experienced some minor cramping. She asked her husband Ben to stay home from work, thinking she might deliver that day.

After breakfast, Ben took the couple’s older son for a short walk. When he arrived home, he found his wife on her hands and knees on the floor in agony.

Susan says: “My pain went from twinges to excruciating in the blink of an eye. It was so severe I could hardly breathe. I thought I was going to have the baby on my living room floor.”

Ben rushed Susan to labor and delivery at Virtua Voorhees Hospital. There, the triage nurses and Virtua laborist, Nicole Lamborne, MD, knew something was terribly wrong.

Dr. Lamborne says: “Susan’s cervix was barely dilated, yet her pain was through the roof.” The second ultrasound confirmed the clinical team’s worst fears: Susan’s uterus had ruptured -- her newborn had torn out of her uterus and off of the placenta. The infant was literally floating within Susan’s abdominal cavity. His heart beat was in and out. Lives were in the balance. Seconds mattered.

Though extremely rare, a ruptured uterus is a life-threatening event for both mother and child. Dr. Lamborne and the surgical team rushed the mother-to-be into surgery where an emergency C-section was performed.

Samuel Eley was born at a normal weight of 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Miraculously, Samuel only needed intensive monitoring in the Voorhees neonatal intensive care unit for eight hours. He was given some oxygen, but required it only briefly.

Within eight hours, Samuel was right where he belonged – nestled in his mother’s arms – safe, sound and sleepy, just like any newborn. And Susan made it through in great shape too.

The Eley family and the Virtua staff rejoiced. Samuel had made a dangerous and dramatic entrance into the world, but thanks to a miracle of science, skill, prepared clinicians and luck from above, this story had the best possible ending.

Dr. Lamborne says: “There are moments in the practice of medicine that you remember for a lifetime. This is clearly one of them.”

Updated December 29, 2017