By all appearances, Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro was dead.
Her heart stopped beating for 45 minutes, and the doctors performing her Caesarean section summoned her family to say goodbye.
What happened next still seems scarcely possible: The blip of her heartbeat began to show on a monitor.
Graupera-Cassimiro, 40, was alive — and she apparently survived the Sept. 23 experience at Boca Raton (Fla.) Regional Hospital without lasting damage.
“She went for almost an hour without a pulse, and the resuscitation lasted almost three hours,” said Jordan Kanurr, the anesthesiologist during the Caesarean section. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Graupera-Cassimiro of Deerfield Beach, Fla., says she is savoring every new day.
“I am just a normal girl. To me this is humbling,” she said Monday. “The doctors call it a miracle and they do not have an explanation.”
It began as a routine C-section. But Graupera-Cassimiro suffered a rare amniotic fluid embolism, which happens when fluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus enters the mother’s bloodstream, clogging the heart and creating a vacuum that stops circulation.
Kanurr said the medical team realized something was wrong when Graupera-Cassimiro lost consciousness shortly after the birth. Resuscitation efforts began immediately and continued until the doctors thought there was no hope left.
That’s when they called in the family. A short time later, Kanurr said he was getting ready to turn off all supportive care. “Just before I did that, she began to have a rhythm,” he said. ”To keep it simple, I believe this is truly a miracle.”
Doctors called her survival a double miracle because she had no brain damage despite going for so long without a pulse.
Graupera-Cassimiro remembers nothing that happened after her daughter, Taily, was born healthy. But her niece Crystal Santos, 21, said relatives gathered to say goodbye.
“They said they were going to have to call a time of death, that it had been almost 45 minutes and that they normally don’t go that long on a code,” Santos said.
Moments later, a blip appeared on the heart monitor.