By HALEY YAMADA, CHRIS CIRILLO, and ERIC NOLL, ABC News
(BOSTON) — Jacklyn Rodriguez was 28 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and intubated. While sedated, nurses helped her give birth to her son 10 weeks early in an effort to save both of their lives.
“When they woke me up, and they told me the baby was born, I remember touching my stomach to feel like, ‘Wait, am I understanding what they’re saying?’” Rodriguez told ABC News.
Rodriguez said that when her COVID-19 symptoms worsened, she was admitted to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where she was immediately transferred to the surgical intensive care unit and intubated.
“Even with forcing as much oxygen as we can into her, her oxygen levels are not staying high enough,” Angela Derochers, the nurse manager at Tufts Medical Center for OB-GYN, robotics and urology told ABC News. “And so we called the OB attending [physician] up, and he looked at me and he said, ‘We need to deliver this baby because they could both die.’”
“When they tell you that she’s really bad — ‘We got to do this now, if you don’t do this, she’s getting worse and both are going to be in danger’ — I couldn’t believe it, man. I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I was nervous. I was really nervous,” said father and husband Raul Luzardo.
Derochers said: “I was just in shock. She was still intubated. … She literally had machines breathing for her and circulating her blood.”
Rodriguez was put on an ECMO machine to help pump blood through her body, so her heart and lungs could rest after the birth, according to Tufts hospital staff. Less than a day later, she woke up.
“I had no knowledge that he was being born. I was sedated,” she said. “It broke my heart a little bit, but it’s OK because I’m alive and he’s alive.”
Rodriguez, who was unable to meet her baby, named Julian, because she still tested positive for COVID-19, spent the next few weeks recovering.
“I was grateful to God to be alive. I was so grateful that he was OK. But not being able to hold him and be the first person to see your kid, your baby, it was really hard,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez tested negative and left the hospital without Julian, who needed to remain under hospital supervision for 83 days.
“She’s been a warrior, man, first of all. She’s been a hell of a woman,” Luzardo said. “She did it. She’s alive, and that’s all that matters.”
Finally, Julian was able to go home and his parents told “World News Tonight” that they’re just so grateful for the hospital staff.
“They did an amazing job. They did everything that they could. I appreciate it to the bottom of my heart,” said Rodriguez.
“It just reminds me, and all of us in health care, of why we do what we do,” Derochers said.
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