Julie Tam, NBC 5
A woman survives a torn aorta and gets to spend Christmas with her newborn baby, 9-year-old, and husband.
A Rockwall mother is looking at Christmas differently this year because she says she's lucky to be alive.
Whitney Davis, 33, suffered what doctors call one of the most dangerous health conditions, an aortic dissection.
Davis felt a sharp pain in her chest after delivering her second child. A CT scan revealed a potentially deadly tear to her aorta. The largest artery in the body that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body had ruptured.
Davis, who was bleeding internally, was airlifted from Rockwall to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
"I had to keep myself calm because I knew, with every heartbeat, that my insides were tearing open." said Davis. "So I didn't know what... I just looked out the window of the helicopter and knew that I was in God's hands and that He was going to take care of me."
Her husband was faced with raising their 9-year-old son and newborn baby alone. Davis had just given birth to their premature daughter three days earlier. She had not even held little Willow when she was rushed into emergency surgery.
"That is a highly lethal lesion. And I'm somewhat surprised she wasn't killed instantaneously from that," said Dr. Mark Pool, her heart surgeon.
Pool successfully repaired Davis' torn aorta and got a thank you card from her son, Carson, for saving his mom's life.
"Dr. Pool, he made me want to be a doctor. And I'm just happy my mom is here," Carson said through tears.
The Davis family calls it a Christmas miracle. Now Davis can hold baby Willow and celebrate Christmas with her entire family.
"It's the most special Christmas that we've had. And you go through something like this, you learn very quickly what's important," said Whitney's husband Chad Davis.
More Information About Aortic Dissection
People with high blood pressure are most at risk for aortic dissection.
In Davis' case, her pregnancy caused high blood pressure. But in more and more other cases, doctors say obesity is making the rare medical condition more common.