Birth Drama

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Like most parents, Kris and Marisa Hayes are grateful they have happy and healty kids. Twins Holly and Lily are impossibly cute. Baby Owen rarely stops smiling.

But Kris and Maria know too well instead of being a family of five, Kris could easily have been a grieving Dad bringing up the twins alone. You see, Marisa was dead when she gave birth to Owen.

This incredible story began five years ago. Kris and Marisa knew from the time they met they were meant to be together. They married...were looking forward to having a family.

After hours of labour, twin girls were delivered EARLY by Caesarian. Just over a year later, a happy accident, Marisa was pregnant again.

Eight months in - the crisis that would turn their lives upside down. Two days before the girls' second birthday, Marisa went from feeling fine - to awful. No idea why.

Marisa collapsed, Kris called an ambulance. She didn't know but Marisa's uterus had burst. Near the site of her old caesarian scar, the placenta feeding Marisa's unborn baby had grown through her uterus. This created weaknesses. When the rupture occurred, blood poured from multiple sites. Marisa was haemorraging into her pelvis, with no blood getting to her heart.

Marisa was brought here to King Edward's labour ward. It was here she went into cardiac arrest. The fight for her life was about to begin.

A medical emergency. A midwife started CPR. Marisa was given adrenilene to try to jump start her heart. A pregnant woman in cardiac arrest is a crisis - there are two lives at risk, and saving them is a massive task.

Anaesthetist Nolan McDonnell, "I remember quite clearly 48 hours before marisa's presentation taking a group of midwives through this and saying, we've never had it happen before at this hospital but one day its going to happen and we need to be ready for it"

No time to get her to an operating theatre, hands shaking, a doctor sliced Marisa open. Vast amounts of blood slowed the doctos down. Marisa's heart had stopped beating for eight minutes....Owen was delivered, critical but alive.

It took another 5 long minutes for Marisa's heart to start again. She'd had no pulse for 13 minutes, no pulse for the firsit five minutes of her son's life, dead when her little boy was born.

Marisa was haemorraging badly. a huge team worked frantically through the night. She'd suffered multiple organ failure. Nolan says "the call was very quick, it just said I have a very unwell patient on the operating theatre, i don't think is going to survive" Nolan McDonnell was one of four anaesthetists racing against the clock. As fast as they put blood in, Marisa was losing it. "We were administering a unity of blood or plasma every 3-4 minutes in the operating theatre"

This single operation used all the blood in the hospital. Dozens of taxis ferried blood to King Edward from other hospitals and the Red Cross, "this is a very rare, very big event"

Red Cross's Rob Astbury says keeping Marisa alive also almost emptied their blood bank, too. "On a daily basis we would normally issue to hospitals about 400 blood units a day from perth in this instance we had a single case that used over 170 blood units"

After 12 excruciating hours, surgery was over. Owen was sent to Princess Margaret Hospital, as his mother was put into an induced coma, where she stayed for 11 days.

Doctors couldn't give Kris any guarantees, "no, it was pretty much 11 days of sitting on the edge"

Marisa says "the next thing I remember was waking up, I was terrified.. it was a bit like when you've been in the movies for 3 hours and you go outside to bright sunshine I just woke up to this room and it was white"

Kris says "because of the blood loss that she had, they said that she would more than likely be brain damaged or brain dead and certain things they prepare you for the worst"

What'd she say? "Her first concern was our son, so she did remember she was pregnant..I'm very fortunate, as soon as I knew that her mind was there, she was very weak and tired but she was definitely there"

Almost two weeks after his birth, this was the first time Marisa Hayes saw her son. Brought to her hospital bed by ambulance officers who thought it was important mum and baby should meet. This, their first cuddle.

Doctors feared Owen could have brain damage. Luckily, despite this incredible trauma, he's perfectly normal. Marisa Hayes knows she owes her life - and little Owen's- to the medical staff who wouldn't give up on them."I'm here because of them and that is just incredible, they didn't even know me and they didn't stop working for 12 hours"

Nolan says "it was a landmark moment for the hospital to have this particular case. and at athe end of the night we all felt a huge sense of achievement" This family of five is so lucky to have each other - and they appreciate it. Every day.

Marisa is alive, thanks to the blood donations of 170 Australians. If you would like to become a blood donor;