Florida woman recovers after 45 minutes without a pulse

Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro had gone 45 minutes without a pulse when doctors called her family into the operating room and told them there was nothing more they could do.

A team of doctors and nurses had been working to revive her. But now they had lost hope that the 40-year-old Florida woman, whose heart had given out without warning after a routine caesarean section at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, was going to live.

Graupera-Cassimiro’s husband, mother and sister said goodbye to her just hours after they’d welcomed a healthy baby girl. The medical team stopped all life-saving procedures. They watched a heart monitor, preparing to record a time of death.

And then the seemingly impossible happened: A blip of a heartbeat showed up. Then another, and another.

Within a few hours, Graupera-Cassimiro was tugging at the breathing tube on her face and scribbling notes to family.

“There’s very few things in medicine that I’ve seen, working in the trauma centre myself and doing all the things that I do, that really were either unexplainable or miraculous,” said Dr Anthony Dardano, president of the hospital’s medical staff. “And when I heard this story, that was the first thing that came to my mind.”

Graupera-Cassimiro made a complete recovery, and was taken off life support a day after defying death on September 23.

It was an amniotic fluid embolism that nearly killed her. Doctors say it is hard to put a number on the odds of Graupera-Cassimiro’s survival. But living through 45 minutes without a pulse is extremely unusual.

“Once we say that’s it, that’s it,” anaesthesiologist Dr Anthony Salvadore said.

Doctors say Graupera-Cassimiro suffered no reduced brain function from the loss of circulation, and no burns from the repeated shocks delivered in hopes of restarting her heart.