ST. LOUIS - It's an unbelievable story of survival.
Air Force Staff Sergeant Jennifer Vaughan had just come home from Afghanistan. She was in love with a man she met at Scott Air Force Base, Master Sergeant Dan Grabski.
At 30-years-old, Jen had an entire life ahead of her. So, she thought she had caught a case of the flu when she came down with a bad cough. She later found out it was leukemia. On Christmas morning of last year, she was given just hours to live.
"I see her parents crying. I see her boyfriend next to her crying. And he was telling one of my nurses that he had planned to propose to her," said Dr. Rizwan Romee, a Washington University oncologist at the Siteman Cancer Center.
Dr. Romee says in that moment he wasn't ready to let her go. So he suggested a completely out-of-the-box idea: hook her up to a machine that normally acts as an artificial lung for newborns who are having trouble breathing.
A team of surgeons were called in on Christmas to perform the procedure, which in and of itself could have killed her. She survived the surgery, and stayed hooked up to the machine for nearly six weeks while her doctors treated her for leukemia.
Dan was by her side everyday with the engagement ring he'd planned to give her that Christmas. Then in February, Jen woke up.
"I was really confused, because my family was there and I knew something was wrong. And these past two months had kind of disappeared. And that's when they told me I had leukemia," said Jen.
One year later, Jen is in remission. She and Dan are engaged. And last month, they were in disbelief when they found out they're now expecting a baby. Doctors are keeping a close eye on Jen and her baby, but so far everything looks good.
Doctors say they think her treatment and miraculous recovery could help save the lives of other patients in the future.