Preparing to welcome a baby is supposed to be a joyous time for any family. But for one North Carolina couple, a devastating health scare threatened that happiness.
John Lancaster initially believed he just had a “bad cold.” On January 17, 2018, John’s “cold” prevented him from breathing properly, so his wife, Erica, convinced him to go to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. But the doctors there didn’t know what was wrong with him. The next thing John knew, he was waking up in another hospital, with no idea how he’d gotten there — and no idea that Erica was due to give birth any day now.
“I remember having a cough, and then I remember going to the hospital in Elizabeth City, and then I woke up here [Sentara Heart Hospital],” the 27-year-old man told WTKR.
Sentara Heart Hospital’s doctors finally figured out that John had a previously-undiagnosed heart condition (LVNC, or Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy), which was affecting his lungs. His deteriorating condition the previous weeks had affected his memory, leading him to forget that his wife was heavily pregnant.
The doctors installed an ECMO device (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) in John’s body to keep his lungs functioning, since they were no longer functioning on their own. For 18 days, John was in a medically-induced coma. Erica gave birth on January 24, 2018, while John was undergoing surgery.
“After delivering her, an hour later I made my sister wheelchair me down before his procedure,” Erica said.
“It was hard giving birth without him. It was not going the way it was supposed to go,” she admitted.
John and Erica’s baby girl Kimber was born healthy, and the now-recovering dad called holding his daughter for the first time “better than any medicine in the world.”
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Footage and photos provided by WTKR Norfolk
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