When Kerry Kawai woke up on January 27 of last year, it was a pretty typical morning. Her two kids were up and about and her husband, Paul, went outside to shovel the snow.
So, when Kawai felt nauseous, the 34-year-old mother of two just chalked it up to morning sickness, after all, she was 26 weeks pregnant.
But as the morning went along, Kawai began to feel lightheaded and knew a trip to the doctor might be needed.
“As soon as I heard [my husband’s] footsteps and I knew he was coming inside, I yelled for him to call 9-1-1,” Kawai said. “I wasn’t really worried. I thought it was morning sickness, but then I started to lose my breath and I knew I was going to pass out.”
Kawai assumed she’d wake up at , but when she regained consciousness she was no longer pregnant and at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The Winchester resident went into cardiac arrest soon after arriving at Winchester Hospital. The staff performed CPR to keep Kerry and her unborn baby alive and the decision was made to do an emergency cesarean section in the emergency department.
“It was a very intense situation,” said Dr. Teri Ciccone of Winchester Hospital, the Emergency Department Physician on call that morning.
Baby Ava was then taken to the hospital’s special care nursery while the medical team kept Kerry alive by administering life saving medications and continuing CPR. Kerry was stabilized enough to be transferred to Lahey Clinic where she underwent open heart surgery; she was later transferred to Mass General for further care.
“It was pretty scary,” Kawai said, “but I was unconscious for most of it. When I look back on it, it was pretty scary, but luckily I had great care.”
Seeing Ava and Kerry celebrate the baby’s first birthday is something that Ciccone and the other doctors and nurses on call that day will always remember.
“To see them laugh and cry and to do so well, it’s an incredible feeling,” Ciccone said. “I’ve been in the emergency department for over 10 years and this is far and away the most positive emotional experience in my practice.”