A pregnant bride died from a stroke just minutes before she reached the altar to be married. The baby was delivered minutes later by emergency caesarean section and survived.
30-year-old Jessica Guedes was six months pregnant, and appeared to be healthy on the day. However, she began to feel ill while riding in the limo on the way to the church in São Paulo.
Jessica reportedly complained of feeling dizzy with pains in her neck while en route, which her family put down to anxiety about the wedding. Sadly, it was revealed the bride was suffering from preeclampsia, a rare condition that can affect around one per cent of pregnant women.
At the time, Jessica’s fiancé, 31-year-old firefighter Lieutenant Flavio Gonçalvez was already at the altar. According to reports, a relative ran into the church to say Jessica had passed out in the car.
In an interview with Brazilian magazine Crescer, the groom said:
I was worried because I was waiting for her at the altar and she was taking ages to come in. A cousin of hers ran down the carpet and told me that she had passed out.
I opened the car door and she was lying down but regained consciousness to talk to me. I said to her, ‘Baby, I’m here.’ She replied that everything was fine, but that she had a severe pain in the back of her neck. At that moment, I became a rescuer, as I have been for seven years with the Fire Department.
I took her out of the limo, started first aid and asked for help from my firefighter friends who were there as guests.
Jessica was taken to a state maternity hospital in central São Paulo. However, due to the complexity of the case, she was transferred to the private Pro Matre Paulista Maternity Hospital.
According to the medical report, the mother had a stroke, due to preeclampsia and internal bleeding that meant surgeons were forced to remove the uterus.
Given the severity of the case, the medical team performed an emergency caesarean section to save the 29-week-old baby’s life and the young mum, who had been declared brain dead, passed away after the operation.
The baby is currently in the neonatal intensive care unit and is likely to remain in hospital for another two months.
In a statement, the hospital said: ‘At the moment, the entire Maternity team is prioritising the support, comfort and attention of the families of Lieutenant Gonçalves and the patients’ (by) helping them with all necessary measures.’ Jessica had been attending prenatal care, was healthy and had reportedly shown no signs of high blood pressure.
Jessica was a really cheerful person who loved life, an enlightened and strong being of light. I was so looking forward to becoming her husband and becoming a father. I will be strong and I will not weaken in the face of adversity.
The love of my life taught me how to respect and treat a woman well so that I could learn how to take care of our daughter.
Following Jessica’s sudden death, Flavio discovered his health insurance didn’t cover the private maternity care. Thankfully, within a few days friends, family and colleagues had set up an online funding page, and raised more than £20,000 for the new father.
I still can’t believe this has happened. It seems like I’m in a sad movie, and you cry, cry, cry, but leave the movie theatre knowing it was just a movie.
However, in my case, the movie will never be over, and the suffering will go on forever.
Following her death, Jessica’s family respected her wishes to donate her organs.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.