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Woman gave birth as twister descended on Moore hospital

May 23, 2013

    Hanna Jaquith, Daily Briefing

    When an E-F tornado touched down in Moore, Okla., on Monday afternoon, 25-year-old Shayla Taylor was in active labor on the upper floor of Moore Medical Center (MMC).

    The two-mile-wide twister leveled much of the Oklahoma City suburb, killing 24 people and sending hundreds of wounded residents to area hospitals. MMC—a 45-bed, two-story facility—took a direct hit from the devastating tornado, which ripped away the roof and walls. (This Wall Street Journal interactive shows before-and-after aerial shots of the hospital.)

    The floor "shook like an earthquake" and ceiling tiles and insulation tumbled to the ground as the tornado approached, Taylor told NBC News. Already dilated to nine centimeters, her four nurses decided that she was too far along to seek refuge on the first floor with the rest of the hospital. They gave Taylor a shot to slow labor.

    After the power went out, the nurses moved Taylor to an OR with working outlets and covered her with warm towels. "[T]hen they all just ducked down around me. I could feel the floor shake … And me and the nurses were just sitting there praying," she remembers.

    Fifteen seconds later, Taylor opened her eyes: The OR wall was gone, providing a clear view to Interstate 35 and nearby Warren Theater, which later became a triage center for storm victims. The nurses surrounding Taylor's bed when the tornado hit had all survived.

    Taylor was reunited with her husband and four-year-old son, who had waited out the tornado downstairs with the others. With the help of hospital staff, she was carried through the rubble and out to a waiting ambulance. At 7:25 p.m. at HealthPlex Hospital in Norman, she gave birth to an eight-pound, three-ounce boy, who has been affectionately nicknamed, "Twister."

    "His name is Braeden Immanuel," Taylor told the Norman Transcript, adding, "I had the name picked out for months, but Immanuel actually means, 'God is with us.'"

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