Charlotte Hannah
May 24, 2013

Pregnant Woman Dies, Gives Birth, Comes Back to Life


Lots of people have crazy stories surrounding the circumstances under which they came into the world. These stories range from the somewhat out of the ordinary (“The cord was wrapped around my neck!”) to the totally insane (“I was born in the back of a taxi!”).

When three-month-old Elayna Nigrelli grows up, she’ll be able to tell what’s possibly the most intense birth story ever. Her mom, Erica Nigrelli, was dead when she gave birth to her daughter – but came back to life shortly afterward.

Erica was 36 weeks pregnant with Elayna when she began feeling faint and suddenly collapsed. Luckily, the high school English teacher made it to one of her coworker’s classrooms before passing out. Three coworkers – Jennifer Longoria, June Tomlin and Maxine Reeves – acted fast, grabbing a defibrillator and beginning CPR on the unconscious woman.

Her husband Nathan, a teacher at the same school, happened to be nearby when his wife fainted and came to investigate when he heard yelling. Upon seeing his wife on the floor, he quickly dialed 911.

Photo credit: FortBendStar.com

Photo credit: FortBendStar.com

“My wife is having a seizure. She’s on the floor,” he told the 911 operator. “Oh my God! She’s pregnant and she’s foaming, unresponsive.”

Paramedics arrived and rushed Erica to hospital. Her heart had stopped. When they reached the hospital, doctors performed an emergency C-section to try to save Elayna. They were successful. Although she was early, Elayna was alive – though at the time, her mother was not.

“The doctors told me that Erica delivered post-mortem because she did not have a heartbeat when they took the baby out,” Nathan said to the Fort Bend Star.

But soon after her daughter’s birth, doctors were able to restart Erica’s heart. She was later diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an often fatal condition that causes thickening of the heart muscles. They installed a pacemaker that should keep her from having another attack.

After recovering in the hospital, both mom and baby are now healthy and happy. Plus, Erica recognizes that, given the hell she went through birthing her daughter, she’s going to be treated to some pretty lavish Mother’s Days – or else.

“I have got, like, the best ammunition for the rest of her life,” the new mom told CNN. “She can never do anything wrong.”