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January 5th, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Mother and baby survive near-death experiences

Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

The nightmare began around 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Mike Hermanstorfer stood next to his wife's hospital bed, stricken. He touched her arm. The skin was cold, ashen. Tracy Hermanstorfer's heart had stopped.

"I opened my hand and her arm just fell out of mine," said Hermanstorfer. "She was already gone."

Moments later, the staff at Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs, Colorado, sounded a Code Blue - resuscitation needed for cardiac arrest. They would have to act fast: Tracy Hermanstorfer, 33, was also in labor. Her baby was perilously close to death.

But this was a perplexing case. Before her heart stopped beating, Tracy Hermanstorfer was, by all accounts, completely healthy. Doctors still have few clues about what caused her cardiac arrest.

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