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Mothers, Unborn Babies Saved With Innovative ECMO Machine Procedure

 Wednesday, January 7, 2015 KNBC - Matthew Glasser and Dr. Bruce Hensel

Ashley Hinds and Shelly Anthony were in the middle of their pregnancies when they became deathly ill with the worst form of the H1N1 flu. Hinds remembered doctors telling her something was wrong. "I remember coming to the hospital, them telling me that i had double lung, double pneumonia," Hinds said.

When the doctors made the diagnosis of severe H1N1 flu, they tried everything. Antibiotics failed, other therapies failed. But as the women's health got worse and the lives of their unborn babies became more at risk, doctors and staff at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland suggested using a machine that is usually used on newborns and had only been tried on fewer than 100 adults before them. The machine acted like a heart/lung bypass machine for the mothers and their babies. IVs took the moms' blood into the machine, added oxygen to then returned it to their bodies. "Without this device, neither the mom nor the baby would have survived," said Dr. Hossein Shayan, the specialist in charge.

The husbands watched as Hinds and Anthony were connected to the machines. "Once they put her on the machine, immediately she just, she started...her color started coming back," Ashley Hinds' husband Andy said. "She started returning to normal, and things were looking good. That was the beginning of, I think, the hope."

That hope lasted weeks as the women's bodies slowly fought and defeated the deadly H1N1 bug. As they healed, their bodies and the now-healthy blood kept their babies alive. "She looked at me, and she didn't have to say a word," Andy Hinds said. "She just looked at me, and I just...she just kind of cracked a smile as she always does and I just knew that she was back."

Months later, the families and their newborn children celebrated with every member of the staff who helped save them. "It was a miracle, plain and simple," Andy Hinds said. "It was two miracles, you know. She was the first one, and the baby was the second one, and we couldn’t be happier."