May 23, 2013 ( – When Erica Nigrelli suddenly collapsed three months ago, paramedics were given the challenge of saving not just one, but two lives.

Nigrelli, a high school English teacher in Missouri, was 36 weeks pregnant at the time.

It was at around 9:00 am on February 15, while visiting another teacher's classroom, that Erica began feeling faint. She told her co-worker so, and immediately collapsed onto the floor.


Her husband teaches in the same school and was only a few doors down. He rushed in when he heard the commotion, and immediately called 911. 

“My wife is having a seizure.  She’s on the floor,” he told the operators.  “Oh my God! She’s pregnant and she’s foaming. Unresponsive.” 

Nigrelli’s heart had stopped. 

Fellow teachers rushed into action, performing CPR and attempting to revive her with a defibrillator. 

Soon paramedics arrived, who transported her to the hospital. There, doctors continued to perform CPR and delivered Erica’s baby via C-section. 

KHOU 11 News reports that it was technically a “post-mortem delivery.” 

“My heart was not beating,” Erica explains

However, against all the odds, both Erica and her baby pulled through the ordeal. 

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“There were two lives hanging in the balance the whole time,” says her husband Nathan.  

Doctors diagnosed Erica with a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She now relies on a pacemaker. 

But for her that is small price to pay for the privilege of watching her daughter Elayna grow up. 


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