At 37 weeks pregnant, Herrera was admitted to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and faced with a dilemma. “I had to put my life in the hands of doctors and God, and just hope I was going to get there.” Herrera said.
Herrera succumbed to COVID-19. Doctors said she had to take a ventilator, but wanted to hold on for her unborn son.
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“I was so scared I was going to leave the babies without a mother,” she says. “Not just my newborn baby, but I had a 4 year old at home. “
It was late October. Her father had just died of a sudden heart attack. Herrera learned he had COVID-19.
“In times of grief, you know, we all hugged my mom,” Herrera said. “My mother was also positive for COVID. “
Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 face a high death rate. A recent study found that people who contract the virus are 20 times more likely to die than pregnant women who are not infected. “Pretty quickly she started getting sicker and sicker and sicker.” said Dr. Terese Hammond, ICU medical director at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
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Doctors moved quickly to deliver her son, then moved Herrera to Santa Monica, where she could be put on a machine to keep her heart and lungs running.
“We put it on our ECMO bypass machine. And, for about three weeks, she was almost as sick as she could get, ”Hammond said.
The staff watched her closely.
After nearly a month, Herrera came out weak and unable to speak.
She watched her father’s funeral via FaceTime.
“Knowing that we had just lost my father, I didn’t think my mother could bear to lose her daughter too,” Herrera said.
Herrera still suffers from pain and neuropathy related to COVID. He misses his father. But on this Mother’s Day, the pandemic made her achieve what she is truly grateful for.
“I feel blessed because I am here. My mother is still there. My mother-in-law is still there. My brothers and sisters. I’m just grateful for those who are still there, ”she said.
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