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Jasper Baptist makes amazing recovery after birth of son triggers critical illness, comacomment (0)

June 4, 2009

Babies are born every day in Jasper, but one special birth in December 2008 made this Mother’s Day one to remember.

As her due date was approaching, Sharon Abbott, who attends Philadelphia Baptist Church, Jasper, with her family, was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her third child. She and her husband, Wayne, went to Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper on Dec. 11, and Sharon delivered Jake, a healthy, 7-pound, 14-ounce baby boy, around 6 p.m.

Thirteen minutes later, Sharon was holding her newborn son and started to feel ill.

“I started feeling sick to my stomach, and I knew something was wrong,” Sharon said. At that point, the nurses were also beginning to sense that something wasn’t right and called the doctor back into the delivery room.

“It was a routine delivery, and Jake was a healthy baby but Sharon couldn’t stop bleeding,” said Cindy Woodley, a labor and delivery nurse. “Sharon’s blood pressure went so low, we never started the after-birth recovery process. We immediately went into providing critical care.”

Around 8:30 p.m., Sharon was conscious but not alert and was taken to the intensive care unit (ICU), where she was placed on a ventilator. “I remember the looks on the faces of the medical team; they were all calm. I knew they were doing everything they could but it wasn’t enough,” she said.

So those working at the hospital tried something more — prayer.

The annual Walker Baptist night-shift Christmas party was being held the same night as Sharon’s delivery, and while Sharon still was being treated in ICU, family members who weren’t already present started arriving at the hospital after learning of her situation. Many shared the news of her condition with hospital employees present for the Christmas celebration. The staff circled around Sharon’s family members including her two older children, Gracie and Elijah, and began praying for God to intervene.

Arrangements were made for Sharon to be flown to Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham on AirEvac to receive further care. Once she was placed in the helicopter, Sharon experienced something she will never forget. “I remember every spin of the chopper blade, but I do not remember the pain. I heard the exterior noise of the helicopter, and the next thing I knew, I was walking in heaven having a conversation with the Lord. I said, ‘Oh, Lord, something bad has happened.’”

Although Sharon knew something was wrong, she said there was an unexplainable sense of calm.

“You cannot imagine the peace and love that were there. I tried to distinguish what was going on, and I remembered Jake was healthy. Then I realized I was dying but it was OK. I told the Lord I wanted to live but if it was His will for me not to return, I was ready to stay with Him. I asked Him to please make sure my family was taken care of. I wasn’t emotional or pleading with the Lord; we were simply having a conversation.” 

What Sharon didn’t realize was that while she was conversing with the Lord, she had slipped into a coma. She arrived at Princeton Baptist’s ICU, where the doctors, nurses and medical staff tried their best to revive her.

After traveling to Birmingham, Sharon’s family anxiously waited for several hours until Dr. Keehn Hosier came into the waiting room and asked Wayne and Sharon’s parents to accompany him into the prayer room.

Hosier told the three that everything they could do medically had been done. Sharon was being fully supported by the ventilator and according to statistics, she was dying. Hosier told the family a miracle was needed. He explained Sharon had experienced an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare, unpredictable obstetric emergency in which large amounts of amniotic fluid suddenly enter the mother’s bloodstream causing cardio-respiratory collapse. Fifty percent of mothers who experience this die within the first hour.

The diagnosis is so rare, most physicians never see it in their careers, but Hosier had seen it one other time with tragic results. Sharon’s eyes were fixed and dilated, which typically signals the end stages of life. The doctor tearfully told family members to visit with Sharon as long as they needed. 

Tina Burgett, Walker Baptist’s director of patient access and Sharon’s middle sister, stayed at Walker Baptist to care for Jake in his first few hours. She wrapped him in Sharon’s clothes to initiate the maternal bond from her scent. In the early morning hours, Tina’s husband told her they needed to travel to Birmingham to tell Sharon goodbye.

“I knew it took longer than an hour to get to Birmingham, and I knew we didn’t have long to get there. I was worried that we would not make it to Princeton in time,” Tina said. Leaving Jake in the hands of Wayne’s sister, Tina and her husband left to say goodbye to Sharon.

Sharon’s brother-in-law J.D. Dickerson, pastor of Aldridge Community Baptist Church, Parrish, and his associate pastor went into Princeton Baptist’s ICU to see Sharon and pray for her. J.D. was so shaken by the situation that the other pastor began to pray.

J.D. reached and touched her hand and saw a vision of Sharon talking with the Lord. He pleaded with the Lord not to take her at which Sharon, in the vision, looked at J.D. and smiled. He immediately knew Sharon was coming back.

After spending time with God, Sharon remembers hearing voices — familiar ones — and she tried to talk back but couldn’t. Then she tried to open her eyes to see who was talking but her eyes wouldn’t open.

“At that point, I knew I was OK and God had sent me back,” Sharon said.

In the Princeton Baptist ICU, Sharon remembers finally being able to open her eyes and trying to get the attention of the nurse in the room. Being on a ventilator limited her ability to talk, so Sharon began to shake the bed with the little strength she had. The nurse noticed the movement and immediately went to Sharon’s side.

She was alive, weak but conscious. As days passed, her recovery progressed, the ventilator was removed and she was moved to Princeton Baptist’s step-down unit and then quickly moved to the postpartum unit for six days. Then, finally, she went home in time for Christmas. Her recovery was a miracle.

“There is no medical reason why I should be alive. God placed people where they needed to be, and I am so grateful and thankful how God has worked through this,” Sharon said. “God is good and He still works miracles. I know He has the power to heal and He is working today.”

Sharon sees this event in her life an opportunity to share what God has done. Since January, Sharon — along with sisters Tina and Angela — has been invited to churches and community groups to share this story and she willingly does so.

“God has given my whole family a story to tell, and we’re going to tell everyone we see,” she said. “We will never be the same, and I don’t want to be the same.” (BHS)

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