John Lancaster and his wife, Erica, welcomed baby Kimber on January 28. It was a happy outcome for a couple whose final month of pregnancy was extraordinarily challenging.


John fell ill with what he first thought was a bad cold.

According to WPIX, Erica had urged John to go to the hospital on January 17 after he complained he couldn’t breathe. But doctors couldn’t determine what was ailed the North Carolina man. From there, John was transported to Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.

The 27-year-old told WPIX he remembered having a cough and then waking up in the hospital:

“I remember having a cough and then I remember going to the hospital in Elizabeth City and then I woke up here [Sentara Heart Hospital].”

John had been placed in a medically induced coma for 18 days.

While at Sentara Heart Hospital, specialists discovered John suffered from an undiagnosed heart condition affecting his lungs, Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC). John needed the installation of an Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) device because his lungs weren’t working on their own, reports WPIX.

According to Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, LVNC is a “rare,” primary genetic condition, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Days after John was admitted to the hospital, Erica went into labor. On January 24, the same day John was scheduled for surgery, Erica gave birth to baby Kimber. As she told WPIX:

“After delivering her, an hour later I made my sister wheelchair me down before his procedure.”

Erica said not having her husband in the room during the birth of their child wasn’t a part of her delivery plan:

“It was hard giving birth without him. It was not going the way it was supposed to go.”

Moreover, once awake, WPIX reports, John admitted his memory of the ordeal was hazy. The new father could remember falling ill and going to the doctors, but he had forgotten his wife was pregnant.

Though John called his doctors “rock stars” for treating his condition, he told WPIX holding his newborn daughter was the real cure: “Better than any medicine in the world. Pretty amazing.” he said.

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