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Father recounts day Sacred Heart Hospital doctor saved his newborn's life

Posted: 4/30/2018

The Harris family

Pensacola, Fla. — A soon-to-be, fourth-time mom, Holly Harris planned to have natural childbirth like her previous deliveries. But when she went into labor on April 19 at the Studer Family Hospital Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, a rare medical condition that only happens in one percent of all births took her birth plan off course.

Sacred Heart Hospital Ob/Gyn Dr. Shane Medlock quickly realized that the umbilical cord had slipped out of the birthing canal before the baby. This rare condition, called umbilical cord prolapse, can cutoff oxygen supply to the fetus and cause significant danger unless immediate interventions take place. Further complicating the delivery, the baby had changed positions overnight and was now coming feet first.

Fortunately for Holly, Sacred Heart is prepared for emergencies like these. It has the area’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the most critically ill and premature newborns, and the area’s only OB Emergency Department.

In a Facebook post that praised the outstanding medical care his wife received, Holly’s husband, Jake, recounted the chain of events that took place during the delivery:

“The amazing staff at the OB Labor & Delivery were just going through the normal ‘everyday’ when something went very wrong with our delivery,” he wrote. “Dr. Medlock recognized the issue and gave the order, and just like that the nurses came out of everywhere and it was like they were a SWAT team that were coming into rescue hostages! They all knew their part and did it with lightning speed!”

While a nurse used her hands to keep pressure off the umbilical cord, another set of nurses rushed Holly into the operating room on a gurney. Amidst the flurry of activity, Dr. Medlock stopped to briefly explain to Jake what was happening.

“I’m a 10-year combat veteran and I have never felt more vulnerable in my life,” he said the day after his wife’s delivery. “When Dr. Medlock spoke to me, I felt a sense of peace come over me. I knew God had his hands on them.” 

Jake said from the time Holly went into labor to the time their daughter, Haven Lynne, was born via emergency Cesarean section was a span of just six minutes.

Holly said most of the day was still a blur. “I remember feeling very scared before I was put under anesthesia,” said Holly, who now shares her birthday with her new daughter. “When I woke up I saw Jake holding Haven. I felt a sense of relief when I held Haven skin to skin.”

In his Facebook post, Jake wrote: “Sometimes, in the fog of what is going on in our own life we overlook the ones that have made our life possible and I just wanted to take a few minutes and truly thank the staff at this hospital for making the life of my beautiful baby Haven Lynne Harris possible. This is just the ‘everyday’ for them, but they had my everything!”

Although Holly’s birth plan didn’t go as expected, she’s grateful she has a healthy baby girl. Holly and Haven were discharged from the hospital four days later and returned home to Pace where the rest of the family is getting to know their new baby sister.

About Ascension

Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. In FY2017, Ascension provided more than $1.8 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Ascension includes approximately 165,000 associates and 34,000 aligned providers. Ascension’s Healthcare Division operates more than 2,600 sites of care -- including 153 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities -- in 22 states and the District of Columbia, while its Solutions Division provides a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, facilities management, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.


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