Amanda Banic, 35, said her newborn daughter Baylor saved her life while she was pregnant and hospitalized for an aortic dissection due to a rare genetic condition
A Michigan mother is opening up about how her unborn baby saved her life after being hospitalized with a rare genetic condition.
Amanda Banic was 35 weeks pregnant when she started experiencing severe chest pain. She went to the emergency room, believing it was a heart attack, and after being monitored, doctors sent her home with a "diagnosis of indigestion and anxiety," Good Morning America reports.
However, the chest pains continued days later and the 35-year-old mom-to-be also experienced pain in her jaw and vision.
"I just felt in that moment that this was it. I think I'm dying," Banic told the outlet. "I didn't know how else to explain it. I had just never felt anything like it."
Despite the pain, Banic said she was “fearful” of going back to the emergency room and having her symptoms dismissed again. Her husband, Derek, ultimately insisted she seek help and after arriving at the hospital, doctors needed to immediately medevac Banic to a larger hospital, Corewell Health, over 80 miles away in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While there Banic was diagnosed with aortic dissection, a life-threatening condition in which a tear occurs in the inner layer of the body's main artery (aorta), according to the Mayo Clinic. Blood rushes through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to split and normal blood flow throughout the body may slow or stop. If blood passes through the outside aortic wall, the condition is often deadly.
Symptoms of aortic dissection include sudden and severe chest or upper back pain, stomach pain, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, leg pain, difficulty walking and more.
Aortic dissection occurs in about 2 out of 10,000 people and is most often seen in men ages 40 to 70, according to the National Library of Medicine.
"I don't think I even realized really what was happening until I got to Grand Rapids and was rolled into the operating room and it was just packed to the gills with doctors and nurses and techs," Banic said. "Then it hit me that it was a pretty serious situation."
She continued, "The very last thing I remember saying was, 'Just please make sure I get to meet my baby.'"
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Banic gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Baylor, via emergency cesarean section on May 9, 2023 and was immediately taken to undergo an aortic dissection repair, a nearly 13-hour surgery. The following day, she also underwent another open heart surgery to reroute blood around her arteries.
"Over a span of 24 hours, I had a triple bypass, a C-section and aortic dissection repair surgery," Banic said. "[Doctors] contacted my family ... and let them know that I was the sickest person in the hospital and the only thing I had going for me was my age and my health before pregnancy, just the fact that I was young and healthy."
The new mom spent the following week on life support and Derek was told by doctors that they weren’t sure if his wife would survive. "I feel like I'm a pretty tough person as far as stuff like that, and it was weighing me down," he told the outlet. "I just, I can't thank God enough, honestly."
Banic was taken off life support on May 14, 2023, on Mother's Day, and was finally able to meet Baylor for the first time. Doctors later explained how her daughter actually saved her life before she was born.
"Because of the way I dissected, she kind of was in there, essentially holding everything together," she told GMA. "Had she not been in there putting the pressure on all the right places, my outcome may have been very different, so she's kind of a little miracle, in more ways than one."
Banic added that her little girl also motivated her during her recovery process, being able to go home in less than 20 days after doctors expected her to need rehabilitation and in-home nursing care.
"[Derek] was there with me every day and I saw my baby every single day, and my recovery would not have been the same without that," Banic said. "Once I became coherent again and really knew what had to be done, I just started doing it and kind of exceeding all their expectations."
Banic was later diagnosed with Loeys-Dietz syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue and can create blood vessel problems like an aortic dissection. Although she’ll require more procedures in the future, she’s now just enjoying her “miracle” baby at home.
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