Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Emotional reunion after near death birth ordeal

The Cameron family, from left, Alfie, Dave and Nicky, got to thank Waikato Hospital staff in Hamilton yesterday. Picture / Christine Cornege
The Cameron family, from left, Alfie, Dave and Nicky, got to thank Waikato Hospital staff in Hamilton yesterday. Picture / Christine Cornege

Mother whose heart stopped beating gets to meet medics who kept her alive.

A pregnant woman who was resuscitated while her pre-term baby was delivered after her heart stopped beating has visited the Waikato Hospital emergency doctors and nurses who saved her life.

Nicky Cameron went into a coma and was not expected to live after the ordeal on August 31 last year, when the seven-months pregnant mother went to the hospital feeling tired and short of breath.

The 33-year-old's condition deteriorated and doctors began CPR as an obstetrician performed an emergency caesarean to prematurely deliver baby Billy.

Her husband Dave watched as specialists worked on his son and wife.

After 73 minutes baby Billy had died but Mrs Cameron was stabilised and moved to the intensive care unit.

She was not expected to survive.

Yesterday she and Mr Cameron, their son Alfie, who turns 5 on Monday, and their families made an emotional return to the emergency department to meet the doctors and nurses.

"I just said 'thank you' a million times," Mrs Cameron said. "It was great to be able to talk to them and get their perspective on what happened that night."

Mr Cameron, 34, said it was exciting to be able to thank the team in person.

"Just because we shared this really emotional, intimate experience one night so many months ago and then you never saw them again, you didn't really know many of their names, you didn't talk to them again.

"It felt really wrong that we couldn't all sit around and have a chat about what went down."

Mrs Cameron, an artist, presented the staff with a painting for the paediatric ward. The family also gave the medical team framed photographs of Mrs Cameron in the ICU.

Nurse Jenny Wolfe, the then-emergency department co-ordinator, said seeing Mrs Cameron walk through the doors yesterday was "truly incredible".

"Everybody felt the same. She looked so well and so happy."

Originally from Tauhei, near Morrinsville, Mrs Cameron had been staying with her mother when the tiredness and shortness of breath she had been suffering became worrying.

She went with her mother to a medical centre in Hamilton but was sent home about 8pm. Mr Cameron, a director of photography in Auckland, was called to Tauhei. At 10pm he took Mrs Cameron to the hospital where she passed out.

Dr Mark Goniszewski performed the continuous CPR while another specialist held Mrs Cameron's aorta.

Mrs Cameron spent a month in hospital, coming out of the coma on the day of Billy's funeral. She has been in hospital twice more and had surgery to treat an infection in her right foot where the tops of her toes and part of the heel were amputated after she lost circulation during the coma.

The couple said the first anniversary of Billy's death, on September 1, would be hard but they planned to buy presents and donate them to charity.

"I don't want him to be forgotten. I want people to know that he existed."

They had also lodged a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner about Mrs Cameron being sent home from the medical centre earlier that night.

- NZ Herald

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