In February, Danielle Gaither was pregnant with the baby boy she planned to name, K.V. As her due date approached, Gaither began feeling off.

She explained to Fox 46:

“My chest was hurting; my stomach was hurting. The ambulance had to come and pick me up off the floor.”

When she arrived at the hospital, Gaither was labeled high-risk because of a condition she had called Marfan syndrome.

Screenshot/Fox 46

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s an inherited disorder that affects the fibers that support and anchor your organs and other structures in your body. Marfan syndrome most commonly affects the heart, eyes, blood vessels, and skeleton.

Gaither and her unborn child were immediately airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center. Her doctor, Dr. Jeko Madjarov, was forced to make a potentially life-altering decision mid-flight — whether to perform heart surgery at the same time another doctor was performing a C-section to get K.V. out safely:

“The only chance that you have to save both lives is to do the procedure at the same time.”

He chose to do the heart surgery while K.V. was being delivered. It was a decision that would leave Gaither with only a one percent chance of survival.

The surgery took six hours and required a 15-person team.

Gaither was able to hold her son for the very first time — 111 days later.

Screenshot/Fox 46

She described the moment to Fox 46:

“It was special to me. I cried. I was so happy I cried.”

It’s been a long recovery process for Gaither, but she’s finally able to return home to her four children:

“It was hard for me to learn how to walk. The first day I came I probably walked 5 steps. Now I’m walking 250 steps.”

Gaither now hopes to use her near-death experience as a way to show other people that miracles do happen by the grace of God.

Screenshot/Fox 46

She told Fox 46:

“I’m going to share my story and go to my church and share my testimony. Life is great. Life is good. Don’t take your life for granted.”

But before she’s ready to speak to her church, Gaither is planning to take her mom out to Red Lobster. It’s her way of thanking her for standing by her side over the last several months.

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