A Respiratory Therapist Diagnosed with Coronavirus Gives Birth While in a Coma

Angela Primachenko who is 27 years old was 34 weeks pregnant and days into a battle with coronavirus when she and her doctors decided the best course of action for herself and her baby would be going into a medically induced coma. Doctors put her under and when she woke up, her stomach had flattened and her baby was 5 days old.

In an interview with CNN, Primachenko said, “That was emotionally unbelievable. It was just crazy to have to try to understand what happened the last 10 days, having to puzzle back together your life.”

Angela Primachenko lives in Vancouver, Washington far from the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, but she still contracted coronavirus.

Primachenko lives in a state that’s received a lot of attention as an early outlier of COVID-19 in the United States. Washington was home to the first known case of coronavirus which was announced on January 21. Washington is also the state that experienced the country’s first known coronavirus related death.

However, Primachenko lives in the southern part of the state, far from Seattle, the state’s epicenter of cases. She’s a respiratory therapist at  Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center and continued going to work while pregnant, fully aware of the risks.

“She knew the risk,” said Oksana Luiten, her sister. “She took every precaution.”

Primachenko took precautions and yet she still ended up sick with coronavirus.

Primachenko started to feel unwell and developed a cough which turned into a fever. Her family encouraged her to get tested for coronavirus. She did. In the two days it took to get the test results, her health declined further.

The test came back positive.

“Being a respiratory therapist – just being a human, I guess – I knew I couldn’t keep breathing the way I was and survive,” she explained.

On March 26, Primachenko entered the ICU in the same hospital that she works.

Three days after Primachenko was admitted to the ICU she was hooked up to a ventilator. One of the same ventilators that she herself had assisted doctors with on other patients.

“When you’re that sick, you’re just fighting for your life,” she admitted. “My focus wasn’t on fear; it was just on getting through it.”

While in the coma, her doctors debated for hours about the best course of action. Ultimately, they suggested that inducing labor would be best for her to reduce strain on her lungs and to allow her to retain nutrients.

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Her husband gave the doctors permission to carry on and Primachenko gave birth vaginally on April 1.

David, Primachenko’s husband knew what name his wife wanted for their daughter and called the newborn girl Ava. The couple would later learn that the name Ava means “breath of life.”

By April 5, doctors and family worried for the new mother as her health had still not improved.

Primachenko’s sister, Luiten said, “We were actually scared we were going to lose our sister that day.”

Luiten is Primachenko’s twin sister and they are two of a total of ten siblings.

Fortunately, things took a turn for the better the next day and she seemed to be beating coronavirus.

Primachenko’s health improved and she was extubated and able to leave the ICU. Doctors, nurses, and staff of the hospital cheered for her as she was wheeled out of the ICU. She can be seen smiling behind a face mask.

She returned home where she was finally able to reunite with her husband and see their 11-month-old daughter, Emily. Although these were positive developments, Primachenko was still not able to be with her newborn. Ava remained in the ICU and Primachenko would have to test negative for the virus before being able to see her.

Primachenko is eager to be with her newborn and ‘catch up on the first few weeks’ she missed out on.

Primachenko shared her story with KPTV and said, “I just want to hold her and hug her and love on her and catch up on the first few weeks I missed out on her.”

“I believe because of the community and the people and everyone that believed in me,” she said, “God just did a miracle to have me and my baby be healthy through this.”

Primachenko’s harrowing, yet hopeful story is truly remarkable. We hope she receives a negative test result and can be with her entire family, especially her two daughters Emily and Eva very soon.

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