OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A mother’s weak, trembling hand touched her baby for the first time on Thursday.
“I think the only reason I’ve made it as far as I have as quickly as I have is because of him,” said Abby Unruh of Osawatomie.
Unruh is still in the intensive care unit of Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Her baby boy, Douglas, was visiting from the neonatal intensive care unit. Unruh, age 19, became ill in late December and was treated for bronchitis.
But the illness worsened. She passed out on New Year’s Eve, and was transferred to Overland Park Regional. It turns out she had pneumonia resulting from H1N1 flu.
“Abby was very critically ill. She could not breathe without support from a mechanical ventilator,” said Dr. James Kaplan, a critical care specialist.
On January 7th, at just 34 weeks along, the illness triggered labor. Even though Unruh was in a medically-induced coma, she went through the natural stages of labor.
“They told me that she actually pushed,” said her grandmother, Katherine Unruh.
Two medical teams were in the room — one to save Unruh and the other to save the baby.
“Came out crying and peeing. Praise the Lord,” said Katherine Unruh.
But Abby Unruh was not out of the woods.
“She was literally at death’s door,” said her grandmother.
She spent almost two more weeks on the ventilator. The family placed a photo of the baby in the room so when Unruh awakened, she would see him.
“Kinda crazy. How many people give birth when they’re in a coma?” said Unruh.
Her family says the survival of both mother and baby is a miracle.
“There are no words to explain how incredible it is to see the two of them together,” said Katherine Unruh.
Abby Unruh had not had a flu shot. She and her family encourage others to get one every year.