28-year-old new mom, Diana Crouch, is well aware that she and her baby are lucky to be alive after her terrible experience with COVID-19 while pregnant.
Diana was having a healthy pregnancy last summer and was happy to welcome her now-3-month-old son but then she contracted COVID and everything changed for the worse.
While talking to the Texas Tribune, the young mother shared that she had been really cautious, making sure that she was drinking enough water, eating well and exercising and she had even changed her skincare routine in an attempt to avoid all chemicals that could have affected her pregnancy in a negative manner.
However, what she failed to do was receive the vaccine against COVID-19 in spite of serious urging from OB-GYNs and the CDC, saying that it’s not only safe but also needed for expectant people.
In spite of this, Diana was still not convinced as she told the news outlet that “I just didn’t want to risk it. I was like, we have our immune system for this, and I do not want to do something that might affect my baby.”
While in her second trimester, Diana and her husband, Chris, went on a Las Vegas trip and when they returned, she started having serious symptoms.
It started with a terrible headache, which turned into a fever and even low oxygen levels.
On August 6, the man took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia.
Her struggle to breathe continued and her state got worse and worse.
Diana told ABC13 that “The last thing I remember is telling [her doctor] that I don’t want to be put on a ventilator.”
At 18 weeks pregnant, the oxygen levels were so low that Diana needed a ventilator.
The next two weeks of her life, the woman spent on the ventilator and sedated and she was not improving!
Her doctor, who is also the director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease ICU at Texas Children’s, Cameron Dezfulian, told Chris that his pregnant wife might even need to go on ECMO as a last resort, hoping to save her.
ECMO is a machine used to pump the patient’s blood outside of their body in order to give their lungs and heart a rest.
Despite the fact that Chris was deeply concerned about the procedure, he told the Texas Tribune that he thought at the time: “I may go home without anything [if he didn’t]. With a dead baby and dead wife … there were some very dark days.”
Thankfully, the ECMO procedure really helped and Diana’s health started to improve to the point that she was able to finally come out of sedation.
And since at that point she had made it to 25 weeks of pregnancy, the baby was now able to survive outside her womb so the medical experts there were ready to deliver her son at any moment.
Still, they hoped the pregnancy would continue for a while longer.
Dezfulian explained that “The outcomes get better with every week. As long as we did not think that the baby was causing any harm to her, we wanted to get them both through it for as long as possible. She had voiced that from the beginning, that she wanted to give her baby the best chance possible.”
The nightmare was not over, however, as soon after, Diana suffered three strokes but also seizures and a heart attack, all caused by her infection with COVID-19 and having been on ECMO.
Dezfulian shared that “Being pregnant, having COVID and being on ECMO are the three major risk factors for blood clots. COVID-19 also puts you at risk for bleeding. She had had significant internal bleeding for weeks.”
When Diana went into a coma, Chris remembers the doctor prayed along with him.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever had a doctor pray with me and I didn’t know how to think about that. Because when a doctor is praying with you, you know there’s not much else … we can do,” he recalled.
Diana began to improve, thankfully, and the baby was delivered at 31 weeks.
The married couple was so grateful for everything Dezfulian did for them that they named their son Cameron after the doctor.
Dezfulian told ABC13 about this that “It’s never happened before. When they told me, I was in tears. It is such an honor. I told them I said I do not deserve this.”
Even though the birth was successful, the young mother was still in and out of consciousness and does not even remember giving birth or the three days that followed until a nurse brought Cameron in to see her for the first time.
But with the passing of each day, Diana was getting stronger and stronger and so, after no less than 139 days in the hospital, on December 23, she was discharged and could go back home.
That’s not to say she is completely recovered, however. Diana continues to be on oxygen and she even has a chest tube that prevents her lungs from collapsing.
Furthermore, she has lost strength in her left arm because of the stroke so she needs support to even hold her baby in her arms now.
Chris told ABC13 that “Sometimes, I lay in bed and cry, because I can’t believe she went through all that. She gets really discouraged at times because she cannot do a lot of the things that she used to, but I tell her that to be in this situation is something that I prayed for because it was not looking good at all.”
There is still hope she will improve even more as Diana is now doing physical therapy.
And only 5 days after leaving the hospital, the new mother also made sure to finally receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which she is now a big supporter of and encouraging other expectant mothers to get.
She told the Texas Tribune that “After all I went through, the least of your worries should be the vaccine. I put my baby through all of this as well.”
And Chris, who identifies as conservative, got vaccinated while his wife was still in the hospital, something some of his unvaccinated family members and friends continue to question.
“But I am not getting into politics with them. I just say that if you can eliminate what happened to me, if you can do damage control, why not just do it? Why risk it like we did?”