Florida mom survives 45 minutes with no pulse after childbirth

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A Florida mother is home and tending to her new infant less than a month after surviving without a pulse for 45 minutes following complications from a routine cesarean section.

A spokesman for Boca Raton Regional Hospital told The Associated Press on Sunday that a team of medical workers spent three hours attempting to revive the woman after a rare amniotic fluid embolism.

Spokesman Thomas Chakurda says the doctors were preparing to pronounce her death when a blip on a monitor indicated a heartbeat. Despite going 45 minutes without a pulse, she suffered no brain damage during the Sept. 23 ordeal.

"We had called a code that lasted for three hours. She essentially spontaneously resuscitated when we were about to call the time of death," said Thomas Chakurda, the hospital spokesman.

Doctors had called the family into the operating room and told them there was nothing more they could do for 40-year-old Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro.

Graupera-Cassimiro gave birth to a healthy daughter before amniotic fluid entered her bloodstream and heart and created a vacuum, stopping circulation. Doctors say condition is often fatal.

Chakurda said the woman's survival is a story of two miracles - her resuscitation and the fact that she survived without serious brain damage.

Medical workers used shock paddles and chest compressions throughout the emergency to try and restore heart beat and circulation, Chakurda said.

"Today she is the picture of health," he said.

He said her survival is a case of "divine providence."

Last year in the U.S., just under 24 percent of those who had a cardiac arrest in a hospital survived the experience. Outside a hospital, the survival rate was less than 10 percent.

Is extreme cold the key to reviving the dead?

Dr. Sam Parnia, who runs the resuscitation research program at New York's Stony Brook University Medical School, wrote about the science of resuscitation in his new book, "Erasing Death." He said that death really isn't a moment, but a process that can be interrupted and often reversed, with the help of new techniques.

One of the reasons, Dr. Parnia told CBS' "Sunday Morning," is that emergency workers sometimes quit CPR too soon.

"It's harder than your tough workouts in the gym," he said. "And if you do this for a while it gets very, very tiring. People get out of breath. So imagine trying to do it for an hour."

Compression machines can carry on for an extended time, because longer is often better.

"A lot of doctors will stop compressions after about 20 minutes," said Dr. Parnia. "But we know from research that if you go on for 40 minutes to an hour, your chances of bringing someone back to life is much, much higher."