South Coast mother beats COVID-19 to meet her newborn baby

An Amanzimtoti mother has beaten the odds and have been discharged from Netcare Kingsway Hospital to be with her newborn baby.

Nokuthula Gumede was 36 weeks pregnant when she developed severe COVID-19 complications requiring weeks in intensive care. The pregnant mother was sedated and on a ventilator fighting for her life in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) for three weeks. Her baby boy had to be delivered by caesarean section during this time. He was born on 17 July.

ALSO SEE: Giving birth during COVID-19? Here’s what to expect at the hospital

Even though she had no memory of her time under sedation, Nokuthula’s very first words when she came around were “Where is my baby?”

Netcare Kingsway Hospital general manager, Anna Demetriou says Nokuthula was in a serious condition and developed several complications, including a blood clot in her right leg, so she made a truly remarkable recovery.

Nokuthula’s partner told the hospital that he sometimes sat in his car outside the hospital and send her thoughts of strength and courage, and that he considers her survival nothing short of a miracle.

“When Nokuthula was taken off ventilation and was brought round, she felt so overwhelmed with everything that had happened, that she was extremely emotional and crying uncontrollably. I think that thoughts of her little baby boy motivated her to recover, and it was indeed special to witness her meeting her precious baby in hospital for the first time after almost a month,” says Anna in a press release released by the hospital.

“Nokuthula was discharged from hospital on 21 August after a total of six weeks in hospital, and although she’s still weak and undergoing physiotherapy to help her to walk again (she’s currently using a walking stick), she continues to recover strongly. She will remain on a blood thinning medication for the next six months in order to reduce the risk of her suffering any further blood clots,” her treating pulmonologist, Dr Sabeer Abdool Gaffar says.

He adds that Nokuthula was extremely ill and that they we were deeply concerned about whether she would survive. “The fact that she did is in no small part due to the excellent care she received from the nursing staff at the hospital who should be commended for their considerable efforts during the pandemic. For me personally, it is most rewarding to have been involved in her treatment and we celebrate her recovery from COVID-19,” adds Dr Gaffar.

ALSO SEE: This mom shares how lonely she was giving birth to a preemie during COVID-19

COVID-19 numbers decreasing

“We are pleased to see that the numbers of serious COVID-19 cases are decreasing in our region, and we are now seeing fewer patients. We nevertheless urge the members of the public to remain vigilant and to continue to protect themselves through the use of face masks, social distancing and regular washing of their hands as it is a highly infectious and unpredictable virus,” Dr Gaffar says.

Dad thanks hospital

“The medical and nursing team of the neonatal and adult intensive care units and the maternity unit were absolutely amazing and extremely professional. Their support to me was outstanding and I would like to thank them all for this,” says Nokuthula’s partner and proud father of their little boy.

A long road to full recovery

Dr Thilo Moodley, a psychiatrist who practices at Netcare Kingsway Hospital, says Nokuthula suffered severe trauma, anxiety and depression following her experience, which is common in persons recovering from severe COVID-19 related complications.

“COVID-19 can be a life-threatening infection and many other patients do find that they’re traumatised and depressed following hospitalisation and ventilation. For these reasons we are careful to provide patients with ongoing mental health support while in hospital and for up to six months following their experience,” Dr Moodley says.

“Nokuthula’s strength, courage, fighting spirit and will to live are commendable and that of a true warrior. It was a great honour to have witnessed such a remarkable woman win her battle against COVID-19 and other complications against all odds. We wish this brave mother and her baby all the best going forward,” says Anna.

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