Mother of three, dead for 35 minutes, miraculously survives

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on December 23, 2011 at 11:42 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 24 at 9:09 AM

HURST - Chris Sain isn't sure his son, Jacob, will ever understand what happened to his mom the day he was born.

Jacob can feel the excitement from his brother and sister, and he knows there are presents under the tree. But 10 months ago, things weren't so happy.

"It immediately crossed my mind - what am I going to do without Jen?" Chris Sain wondered. "How am I going to raise three kids by myself?"

Everything seemed fine on Feb. 24. Chris and Jen were ready to welcome their third child at Texas Health Harris Methodist at HEB.

Mom was all smiles. Caleb and Hannah were thrilled to meet their little brother. Just after Jen held Jacob for the first time, she started feeling dizzy, and medicine wasn't helping.

"Pretty soon her blood pressure dropped pretty significantly," Chris recalled. "To the point where they couldn't get a read on her blood pressure."

Two hours after Jacob was born, the family should have been celebrating in the nursery. Instead, Jen was rushed to intensive care.

As fate would have it, Marie Markish was the nurse on duty. She served with the Sains on mission trips, and she was the one who answered the call for a rapid response in ICU.

Markish immediately recognized the Sains when she entered the room and asked Jen a couple of questions.

"She's very short, but she says, 'You got to help me, I am going to die,'" Markish remembered. "I looked at my co-worker, and I said, 'We got to go - now.'"

With that, Jen's pulse disappeared from the monitors.

Her uterus had ruptured, but instead of bleeding out, she bled up - into her abdomen. Her heart didn't have any blood to pump. Doctors fought for more than half an hour to find the problem.

Markish remembers asking the doctor to try one more technique to revive Jen.

"Consistently doing CPR, the chest compressions," Markish said. "She's on the ventilator. We're breathing for her. But all the drugs we were giving her when we finally got access were not recouping her heart. I mean... She just... She was dead. Literally."

After 30 minutes, Marie begged the doctor to fight longer. She then left the room to talk to the family. She prepared Chris for the news, and told him to pray.

"When they say, 'It doesn't look good,' and 'There's not much else we can do,' I started just assuming the worst," Chris said.

He said he wasn't ready to plan a life without his wife.

35 minutes passed without a heart beat. Jen's brain started swelling, and doctors had to cool her down with near-frozen saline and a water-chilled vest that dropped her body into a hypothermic coma. It was the only hope to keep her alive through surgery to repair the discovered rupture.

Otherwise, Jacob would never know his own mother. Chris thought about his son, and prayed.

"It was just a miracle," Markish said. "I am telling you. I've never seen... It was miraculous, it really was."

Jen Sain now plays on the carpet with her three children, thankful for every second.

"God is good, and He allowed me to come back from the dead," Jen declares this Christmas Eve. "I was down for 35 minutes, which you usually don't come back from. Very miraculous that I was able to come back from that."

When Jen woke up from her coma, she had physical and mental obstacles to overcome.

For the first few days, doctors wondered if they had done the right thing. Jen could have been in a vegetative state, with little or no brain activity or muscle movement.After 10 days, Jen showed signs of recovery, but the trauma and the coma left her with amnesia.

When she woke up, she didn't know how to talk or read. She didn't have the strength to walk or hold her baby. She didn't know she was married. Doctors called it a reboot for her brain.

"I am fighter to begin with, so I fought through it," Jen said. "But I believe the Lord was with us and got us through, because I have things to fight for."

Defying the odds, she fought through six months of intense rehab to reconnect all those nerves and memories. She had to keep a promise.

In August, she walked Hannah into school for her first day of kindergarten.

Celebrating Jen's favorite holiday with Jacob is another milestone and a story she will share with all of her children, when they are old enough to understand.

"Some day they will know this was a miracle in our life," Jen said.

The Sains thought that life had ended, but it was reborn. And that's the gift they are most thankful for this Christmas.

"We're all together celebrating Jacob's first Christmas," Chris said.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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