Mum survives heart attack to give birth to twins

GIVING birth is hard enough, but for expectant mother Nina Whear it became a matter of life or death when she suffered a heart attack while having twins.

GIVING birth is hard enough, but for expectant mother Nina Whear it became a matter of life or death when she suffered a heart attack while having twins.

The 38-year-old was 38 weeks' pregnant and due to give birth any day when she suffered a potentially fatal heart attack.

When paramedics arrived she was “blue from head-to-toe and covered in sweat” and was taken to hospital for an emergency caesarean operation, followed by open heart surgery.

Such was the severity of the heart attack, doctors gave her just a seven per cent chance of survival and her husband Andy was sent in to say an emotional goodbye.

However, she battled back and is now back home with her beautiful twins Evie and Alfie, and well enough to tell her story.

Mrs Whear, of The Street, Lamas, near Coltishall, said “It was the most frightening night of my entire life, it really was.

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“I am just so grateful, and now every morning I think about how I might not have been here to see that day.

“I am so grateful to the staff at the hospital and the ambulance team and all those who helped me.”

The drama began on January 6 when Mrs Whear, who until then had suffered no serious complications during her pregnancy, was nine months pregnant.

The wall of her aorta had torn, causing blood to flow between the layers of the wall of the aorta and forcing them apart - a condition which is often fatal.

Paramedics arrived just in time to give her oxygen, which it is thought may have saved her life.

She was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and then to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, where the twins were delivered by emergency caesarean, before open heart surgery.

Doctors thought her chances of survival were so low they sent a hospital chaplain in to see her, and she was left alone with her husband Andy, a 39-year-old sergeant in the army who works in Aldershot, so that the couple, who have been married for seven years, could say goodbye to each other.

But Mrs Whear, formerly a Prince's Trust team leader working for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, survived her ordeal, as did twins Evie and Alfie, who weighed 3lb 11oz and 4lb 10oz.

She said. “I had quite a difficult pregnancy and I was only getting about 40 minutes sleep a night because every time I lay down I couldn't breathe.

“But that night it didn't ease at all, and it got worse and worse. My mum was staying as Andy was doing his last shift in Aldershot before his paternity leave, so I had to go into her room and ask her to call an ambulance because I didn't have the oxygen to talk.

“I remember them bringing Andy through and we were left alone to say our goodbyes. I was very calm because I thought if I was going to die I wanted to do it calmly.

“When I woke up after the operation I still couldn't talk, but I tried to signal to the nurse to say that I couldn't believe I was alive, although I don't think she understood what I meant.

“I was so shocked that I didn't even think about the fact I had just had twins, I was just amazed to be alive.”

While Mrs Whear, who has no other children, remained calm throughout the experience, her husband, who jumped out of his bed in Aldershot and rushed to the hospital in his shorts and flip flops, was understandably shaken.

“I couldn't stop blubbing,” he said. “All I could think was what if I don't come back with any of them? All the different scenarios were going through my head, like whether the twins would be okay but Nina wouldn't, or whether Nina would be okay but the twins wouldn't. It was horrible.”

Since the heart attack, Mrs Whear has been a frequent visitor to the hospital, as she had three blood clots in her body as well as fluid on her lungs, and she now describes herself as “Frankenstein's bride” because of all her surgery scars.

And as a result of her surgery she is currently unable to pick up the twins and is upset that she can no longer enjoy her extreme sports hobbies of bungee jumping and white water rafting.

Vicky Goddard, one of the ambulance crew who helped to save Mrs Whear's life, said: “As soon as we arrived we knew it was absolutely critical we got her to hospital as soon as possible - the only diagnosis we needed at that point was looking at her.

“She was so covered in sweat that we thought she had rubbed something like Vicks on her chest, and she was blue from head-to-toe. For an adult to have a blue chest is very serious.

“We gave her oxygen immediately and we were only at the house for 13 minutes before she was put in the ambulance. Timing was absolutely everything. If we hadn't got her to hospital she may not be here now.”