In August 2021, Texas mom Diana Crouch tested positive for COVID-19 at 18 weeks pregnant. After suffering low oxygen levels, she was rushed to the hospital and intubated. What happened from there is a one in a million birth story.
Diana admits that she chose not to get vaccinated against the wishes of her doctor.
“I just didn’t want to risk it,” she tells the Texas Tribune. “I was like, we have an immune system for this, and I don’t want to do anything that might affect my baby.”
She and her husband, Chris, were both unvaccinated at the time and had just returned from a trip to Las Vegas when she fell ill. She says she didn’t think she would catch COVID because she had previously contracted it prior to getting pregnant.
“I honestly didn’t think I would catch it again,” she told TODAY. “I didn’t think much of it at the time because in pregnancy you just get tired.”
As her condition quickly worsened, she was placed on ECMO—a heart-lung bypass machine that has been a frequently used method of life support for COVID patients throughout the pandemic.
“On a daily basis we were having to review whether it made sense to continue keeping the baby inside of her or did we need to deliver the baby. That discussion got particularly challenging when she had those strokes and the heart attacks and was on medications for seizures and in a coma for several days,” Dr. Cameron Dezfulian, medical director of the adult congenital heart inpatient care at Texas Children’s Hospital, told TODAY. “At that point it was a really tough discussion.”
Once the baby reached a point of viability, Diana gave birth to her daughter Cameron at 31 weeks. Two months after being admitted to the hospital, however, is when she suffered three strokes and a heart attack.
“Being pregnant, having COVID and being on ECMO are the three major risk factors for blood clots,” Dezfulian said, per the Tribune. “COVID also puts you at risk for bleeding. She’d had significant internal bleeding for weeks.”
When Diana got pregnant in April 2021, less than 20% of pregnant people nationwide were vaccinated for COVID. Now, more than 65% of pregnant people are vaccinated, but there is still a significant amount of fear and misinformation about the vaccine and pregnant people.
She and the baby are home now, though Diana still needs assistance with breathing and hasn’t yet regained the full use of her left arm. She and Chris are both vaccinated, and urges all pregnant people to get the vaccine and regrets putting herself and her baby at risk for so many health issues.
“After all I went through, the least of your worries should be the vaccine,” she said. “I put my baby through all this as well.”