FORT WORTH, Texas - A North Texas woman who battled the coronavirus during her pregnancy is now a proud mother.
Pooja Charaniya spent nearly two weeks in the ICU and was placed on a ventilator, but she eventually delivered a healthy baby boy.
There are still a lot of questions about how COVID-19 affects pregnant women.
And this case was especially challenging because the mom-to-be showed up to the hospital just as the pandemic was ramping up, when there was very little was known about the virus.
“When he starts breathing fast, I am so stressed. I feel like something is wrong,” Pooja said.
The new mom and her husband, Jainul, have all the new parent worries, and then some, when it comes to the health of their infant son Zayd.
But they pray the worst of it is behind them.
Pooja was 23 weeks pregnant when she tested positive for COVID-19.
“She was like, ‘Oh, it’s positive.’ So I was like, ‘No, that’s not going to be the same thing. You want to do it again? Let’s do it again,’ because I was I was so protective. I protected myself from everybody. I used sanitizer, I used masks,” she recalled.
Pooja and her husband were shocked because they’d both been working from home, being extra cautious, but her symptoms progressed.
She was transferred to the intensive care unit at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth in April.
Because a woman’s oxygen delivery level needs increase during pregnancy, any respiratory distress symptoms experienced from the virus could have been extremely dangerous to both her and the baby.
“COVID-19 does not generally impose a direct threat to the fetus. But at only 23 weeks into the pregnancy the baby’s survival would have been touch-and-go,” said Dr. Bannie Tabor, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Texas Health Fort Worth.
She’d end up in the ICU, then spend 13 days on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.
COVID restrictions kept Jainul away from his pregnant wife’s bedside.
“Every day I just call the hospital and once a day they would do FaceTime and show me,” he recalled. “Seeing her like that, with all the things in her mouth, nose. It was like not good.”
Texas Health Fort Worth doctors even kept NICU resuscitation equipment outside Pooja’s room in case of an emergency delivery, and suggested a Remdesivir clinical trial.
“I said, ‘Do we have another option right now?’ And they were like, ‘No, that’s the only thing we can do.’ Do whatever you want, just bring my wife back. And they were like okay,” Jainul said.
“Her getting intubated shortly after she arrived here is probably what helped her the most,” said Lindsey Canon, director of women and infant services at Texas Health Fort Worth. “Our biggest concern is that the fetus is being oxygenated.”
Five weeks later, as her family captured on Tik Tok, she was released and went home for the rest of her pregnancy.
On July 22, she delivered Zayd, a preemie at 37 weeks, but healthy.
“It’s a blessing that we both recovered, but the journey was so hard,” Pooja said. “The nurses and doctors at Texas Health Fort Worth gave me and my baby a second chance at life, and there are no celebrations, baby showers or gifts that can replace that.”