TODAY   |  December 29, 2009

Miracle baby's mom 'was dead,' docs say

Dec. 30: Doctors in Colorado call it a Christmas miracle: A mother and her lifeless baby suddenly come back to life after an emergency delivery. TODAY's Lester Holt reports.

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>>> we're back now at 7:44 with a holiday tragedy turned miracle for one colorado family. lester 's here with more on their story. lester , this is incredible.

>> amazing story, great outcome, mom -- matt. a mom-to-be was in the hospital when her heart suddenly stopped, putting not only her life, but the life of her unborn baby in jeopardy. doctors say what happened next is nothing short of a christmas miracle.

>> she was dead. she was dead. she had no heartbeat, no breathing. she was as gray as her sweatsuit.

>> reporter: tracy hermanstorfer was in labor on christmas eve with husband mike at her side when the delivery took a sudden turn for the worse.

>> i got really tired, and you know, i just decided to close my eyes , and i don't remember anything else.

>> reporter: tracy went into cardiac arrest . no breathing, no heartbeat, no signs of life . and doctors had to act quickly. they didn't have just one life to save, but two.

>> cardiac arrest in pregnancy is incredibly rare, and when it happens, it's almost always catastrophic and life-altering, if they survive.

>> reporter: as nurses performed cpr on tracy , doctors began an emergency c-section to try to save her baby boy . while tracy was on the operating table lifeless, her baby, colting's, delivery was already under way.

>> immediately after delivery him, he was completely limp and unresponsive, but immediately after delivering him, her pulse came back.

>> reporter: suddenly, tracy came back to life, but the doctors still needed to save the breathless baby.

>> the first time that i held colton, he still wasn't breathing. they actually got him started right in my hands. i didn't get to cut his cord, but i got to be there for that first breath, literally.

>> reporter: breathing new life into the meaning of a christmas miracle.

>> there is only one explanation for having either one of them, let alone both of them, here, and it's just an absolute miracle.

>> doctors still don't know what caused tracy to stop breathing during labor, but they say both mom and baby colton appear to be healthy with no signs of major problems, matt.

>> do you believe -- i sound like al michael, but do you believe in miracles?

>> i think you have to here.

>> lester , thank you very much.

>>> just ahead, amazing transformations. three