By KCAL/KCBS Staff | March 15, 2021 at 12:16 AM EDT – Updated March 15 at 12:36 AM
UPLAND, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) – A California mother is grateful she and her newborn daughter survived after the mother contracted COVID-19 and her baby had to be delivered early. She didn’t even know she’d given birth until a week later.
As Yvette Camacho wheeled her newborn daughter, Emery, out of the hospital Thursday, it signaled the end of the family’s battle with COVID-19 and the beginning of their life together at home.
“I am ecstatic. We’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time now,” Camacho said.
The pregnant 30-year-old first arrived at the hospital in January after contracting COVID-19. She had no preexisting conditions, other than her pregnancy, but due to the severity of her illness, she was airlifted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“By the time she came to us, she was really struggling, to be honest,” said Dr. Dominic Emerson, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai.
At Cedars, Camacho was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a machine that pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. Her baby needed to be delivered immediately, despite being only 26 weeks along.
“I think that if had she not come to us, or even if we delayed the transfer for whatever reason, I don’t think that, unfortunately, either her or her baby would have survived this,” Emerson said.
Camacho was on a ventilator, her body so weak she needed to be paralyzed, so she wasn’t aware of the delivery. When she woke up a week later, she was told that her daughter had been born. For days, their only contact was over FaceTime.
“It was really heartbreaking because the first moments of her life, it’s the most bonding time that I felt that I needed with her, and I didn’t get to experience that,” Camacho said.
Camacho was discharged from Cedars-Sinai 18 days after she arrived, and Emery was transferred to San Antonio Regional Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, so she could be closer to home.
Exactly one month and two full pounds later, Emery was strong enough to leave the hospital.
“It’s really a miracle that we both made it and that both hospitals did whatever it took to have us here today,” Camacho said.
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