A Race Against Time
When her unborn baby’s heart rate began declining rapidly, Molli Wey and her obstetrician took off running to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, where medical staff safely delivered Jack.
Six-month-old Jack Wey is pretty much your typical healthy baby. He smiles; he laughs; he adores his older sister, Maggie. But his entry into the world was anything but typical.
At just over 38 weeks pregnant, Molli Wey of Bloomington had settled in for her weekly exam with her obstetrician, Sherri Thornton, MD. Molli knew the routine. But during the course of the check-up, Dr. Thornton became alarmed. “I didn’t know what was happening,” Molli remembers. “I thought that she might have found a contraction, and that I was going into labor.”
In reality, Dr. Thornton had detected that the baby’s heart rate had dropped to under 60 beats per minute—dangerously low. (A healthy prenatal heart rate is 110-160 beats per minute.) Dr. Thornton knew she needed to get Molli to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center—and fast. “When a baby’s heart rate drops like that, you have about 20 minutes to get him out before you risk permanent injury or even death.”
Since her office is across the street from the medical center, Dr. Thornton knew that it would be quicker to run to the hospital with Molli rather than wait for an ambulance. She and Molli took off on foot with Molli’s husband, Jon, trailing behind. “Even when Dr. Thornton said, ‘I know I’m scaring you, but you have to keep up,’ it didn’t register that something was wrong,” Molli says. “When she told the nurses who were waiting for us at BroMenn that she couldn’t get a steady heartbeat, that’s when it hit me what was happening. It was an out-of-body experience.”
Molli needed an emergency caesarian section, but there wasn’t even time to get a gurney to take her to the operating room. “We could run faster than a gurney could go,” says Dr. Thornton. “So we hurried to the OR, and nurses were literally cutting off Molli’s clothes as she ran.”
The entire procedure was lightning fast—only 13 minutes from the time they arrived at the hospital to the time Jack was born. His heart rate was still extremely low, but after receiving chest compressions he perked up quickly. “My husband had to watch from a viewing window outside of the OR,” Molli says. “It was very scary for him, because he couldn’t see if the baby or I were ok. But Dr. Thornton gave him the thumbs-up sign, and he felt a huge sense of relief.”
To be on the safe side, Jack was monitored for two days in BroMenn Medical Center’s new special care nursery while Molli recovered in the state-of-the-art Mother Baby Unit. “Everyone was so accommodating, from the nurses who checked on me throughout the day to the security staff who welcomed all of the visiting family members,” Molli remembers. “They made us feel like we were the only ones in the unit, even though I knew they were busy. In the end I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
Looking at him today, no one would ever know that Jack had such a close call—he’s been healthy ever since. And Molli is profoundly grateful to Dr. Thornton and her caregivers at BroMenn Medical Center. “Everyone thought so quickly on their feet,” she says. “How do you thank someone for saving your son’s life?”
First published: Spring 2013