Twenty-eight-year-old Andrew Goette could not have chosen a worse time to go into cardiac arrest—not that he had any choice in the matter to speak of.
He and his wife, Ashley, were just days away from welcoming their firstborn child into the world.
Just hours before his wife was to be induced into labor, though, on the morning of Oct. 16, she woke up and saw that Andrew was having difficulty breathing. And, just as she was preparing to welcome a new life into the world, now she was called upon to save the life of her husband by administering CPR.
Ashley, an elementary school teacher’s aide, called 911, and as paramedics rushed to their home, in West St. Paul, Minnesota, the operator guided her in keeping her husband alive.
By the time first responders arrived, however, Andrew had been deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time. They successfully got his heart working, and he was rushed to the hospital.
“When I left the house, part of me had to come to terms that he wouldn’t be coming home to me,” Ashley told Minneapolis Star Tribune later.
Yet the prognosis doctors gave was not good. After CT and MRI scans, it was believed that his brain had suffered extensive damage due to oxygen deprivation, and his survival was in doubt. Doctors told Ashley to prepare for the worst.
“I don’t remember my life before him, and I didn’t want to think about what my life was going to be like without him,” she recalled after the ordeal.
To her credit, Ashley never gave in to despair. During those first uncertain 24 hours, she made a promise to her husband while he was in a medically induced coma that she and their unborn son would wait for him to come back before going through with the birth—she would not be induced into labor until that time.
Meanwhile, Andrew’s body temperature had been lowered to aid his brain in healing itself.
The next day, his body temperature was brought back up and he was taken off life support. His body began to twitch, and he became responsive to the nurse’s cues: He opened his eyes, squeezed her hand, moved his thumbs, and wiggled his toes. These were good signs, but they weren’t out of the woods yet. Now, it was Ashley’s turn.
While Andrew recovered, his wife was whisked into the maternity ward one floor down from him. Her induction into labor stalled, however, and the doctors had to implement an emergency C-section. Andrew wasn’t able to watch the birth in person, but he did get to see it live via FaceTime.
Their son Lennon was born at 5:16 a.m. on October 20th, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces (approx. 3 kg). Meanwhile, Andrew’s previous prognosis did not materialize like doctors said it would; he escaped with minimal brain damage. And minutes after the birth, he got to hold his son in his arms.
It finally looked like things were going to be alright, after all.
On Monday, Andrew underwent heart surgery to repair an apparent heart arrhythmia, believed to be the cause of the attack, and all three of the happy family members are expected to head home by the end of the week.
Although the couple have health insurance, they have set up a GoFundMe page in the hopes of recovering lost wages and Andrew’s mounting medical expenses.
For now, though, it would seem that Ashley’s quick thinking is what made this perfect ending possible, amidst imminent disaster. Dr. Alex Teeters, who treated Andrew, later told MPR, “I don’t think Andrew would be here today if it wasn’t for the actions of Ashley.”