Johannesburg - Eight months pregnant, the woman lay dead after a train smashed into her car while she was crossing a railway line in Polokwane in 2012.
Miraculously, inside the dead woman, the unborn Tendani Mashudu kicked.
Paramedics who attended the accident scene rushed the dead mother to Pietersburg Provincial Hospital for a caesarean birth.
Hospital healthcare workers delivered a healthy baby girl who has been described as “a miracle baby”.
At the weekend, Tendani celebrated her second birthday with some paramedics and a doctor who helped save her life.
David Dennison, operations manager for emergency medical services in Polokwane, organised the celebration party, which was sponsored by Meropa Casino and Entertainment World.
Dennison said he had been the first paramedic to arrive at the crash scene after being alerted by a motorist.
“It was as if I was pointed in the right direction. That day, I took a different route to work. Somebody stopped me and asked if I had heard of the accident on the railway line.”
He said that when he arrived, Tendani’s mom was already dead.
“Tendani’s mother was still trapped in the car, lying down. It was a horrific sight,” he said.
Dennison then thought of the unborn baby.
“I listened to the tummy with the stethoscope because I could see she was pregnant. The baby kicked.”
Minutes later, his colleagues - Eugene Schreiber, Davey Matlejoane, Masilo Meela and Michiel van Heerden - arrived in an ambulance. The dead mother was rushed to hospital to be operated on.
Dennison described Tendani as special, saying he regarded her as one of his own children.
“As a professional, I always want to give people the opportunity to live. As a father-of-three, she is (also) my child,” said Dennison.
He said it was the first time he had encountered an incident like that in his 30 years’ experience.
However, one of the paramedics who saved Tendani’s life didn’t make it to her second birthday celebration.
“One of my colleagues, Davey Matlejoane, who drove the ambulance, himself passed away recently in a car accident,” said Dennison.
He said their heroic story won them R10 000 in prize money from the Centrum Guardians competition, which they donated to Tendani.