Here is a story that will touch your heart and fill you with hope. It will show you that miracles do happen sometimes.
Three years ago in China, a woman named Zhang Rongxiang was in a devastating car crash. She slipped into a coma as a result of the accident.
Moments after doctors told her husband she would never recover, they made a shocking discovery. She was pregnant. What’s more, her unborn child had survived the horrific trauma of the accident.
For the next 5 months, Zhang’s devoted husband Gao Dejin looked after his wife at home until doctors were able to perform a C-section to remove their little son, Gao Qianbo from her womb.
The little boy spent every day by his mother’s bedside ever since. The miracle doesn’t stop here though. Earlier this year, Zhang awoke from her coma to the sound of her son’s voice!
While she is able to swallow, she cannot chew her food. So to avoid having to eat pureed hospital meals, she is given regular food which Gao Qianbo helpfully chews and then tenderly passes from his mouth to hers.
This story is an achingly beautiful symbol of the love that binds a mother and her son.
But are you wondering how Zhang was able to nurture a baby in her womb while she was in a coma? What about childbirth while a woman is in a coma? How are these things even possible?
Cases of women going in to comas while pregnant are extremely rare. Giving birth while in a coma is even more rare. Dr Winston Campbell of the University of Connecticut has said there are only around 8 reported cases in the USA since 1977 in which women went into comas while pregnant.
In Singapore, there is one known case that was reported in the New Paper back in 2001 – Madam Rohaidah Mohd Saniof who was 8 months pregnant when she slipped into a coma.
Under the expert care of doctors at NUH, Madam Rohaidah delivered a beautiful baby girl who was named Shazanani.
Dr Timothy Lee, a senior consultant nuerosurgeon who helped look after Madam Rohaidah explained in the New Paper report that she had a blood clot in her brain, which caused the coma. He also said that even if a pregnant mother is in a coma, as long as she is kept alive, the baby can easily survive too.
We also asked Dr Peter Chew, who is a well-respected obstetrician and gynecologist here in Singapore, for his professional opinion on how a pregnant woman in a coma could deliver a baby. Here’s what he had to say:
- It is possible to maintain the blood flow to the womb and the placenta in a comatose patient.
- As long as the blood pressure is maintained and the heart continues to pump, placental perfusion would be adequate.
- The foetus would continue to grow inside the womb until the optimal time for delivery decided by the obstetrician.
Even though comas in pregnancy are extremely rare as explained above, they can sometimes (again, very rarely) be caused by a medical condition called eclampsia.
What is eclampsia?
If you already have children, or are currently pregnant, your doctor might have talked to you about a condition called ‘preeclampsia’ which is a pregnancy-related complication.
According to medical experts, preeclampsia can escalate into eclampsia if not monitored carefully. Eclampsia may cause seizures and/or coma during pregnancy.
Dr Melissa Stoppler highlights these facts about preeclampsia on MedicineNet.com:
- Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy usually characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine;
- It usually occurs after the 34th week of pregnancy;
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia are most common in first-time pregnancies;
- Pregnant teens and women over 40 are also at increased risk;
- There is no cure for preeclampsia except for delivery of the baby.
If you are told you have preeclampsia, your doctor will ensure your health and your baby’s health is monitored on a regular basis. In Singapore where the medical system is world class, your doctor is bound to take very good care of you and your baby.
If you are currently pregnant and have any concerns about this condition, please speak to your doctor.
The stories of Zhang Rhongxiang and Madam Rohaidah remind us how vulnerable, yet strong a woman can be while pregnant and during childbirth. At the same time, these tales are stories of hope, reminding us to never give up on the ones we love.
We would love to hear what you think of this story so please do leave a comment. Have you had an experience of preeclampsia or eclampsia? If so, what is your advice to pregnant mums on this matter?