When Angela Primachenko awoke from a week-long, medically induced coma on April 6, she was disoriented from all of the medications in her body.
She had also lost her pregnant belly and gained a newborn daughter, while doctors kept her unconscious so that her body could fight a severe case of covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
“I just woke up and all of a sudden I didn’t have my belly anymore,” she told NBC’s “Today” show from her home in Vancouver, Wash. “It was just extremely mind-blowing.”
On March 22, Primachenko had a runny nose and suspected she was suffering from spring allergies. Two days later, the pregnant 27-year-old had developed a fever — a dangerous condition for a woman 33 weeks pregnant. She went to the hospital where she worked as a respiratory therapist to be tested for the coronavirus.
“I was taking precautions. I didn’t go to work because I am pregnant,” Primachenko told “Today.” “I don’t know where I caught it, I don’t know where it happened, but somehow I just ended up coming to the hospital and just getting sicker and sicker.”
She tested positive for the virus on March 26, and her health rapidly deteriorated. Two days later, she was struggling to breathe normally. On March 29, her doctors put her into the medically induced coma so that her body could focus on overcoming the infection.
On April 1, while Primachenko was still unconscious and fighting the virus, doctors induced labor and delivered her daughter Ava.
Doctors placed the premature Ava in the neonatal intensive care unit until she can eat and poop on her own, Primachenko’s twin sister, Oksana Luiten, told KGW. The mother and daughter won’t be reunited until Primachenko has two negative coronavirus tests in a row.
But Primachenko said she has been able to see her daughter over video calls when her husband, David, visits Ava in the hospital.
Luiten told KGW the family’s ordeal made them wish people would take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.
“This is not a joke,” Luiten said. “This is not an average flu, this is much, much worse.”
Primachenko began to recover earlier this month, when she was able to come off a ventilator and breathe on her own. Her colleagues gathered to cheer and applaud as she was wheeled out of the intensive care unit.
“Everyone did a standing ovation and just clapped me out of the ICU, which was so amazing and such a huge thing to be able to leave the ICU and go to the floors,” Primachenko said. “It was just the grace of God.”
For Primachenko and her family, Ava’s birth and her mother’s recovery have been an inspiration during a dark time.
“I don’t know how to make it through without faith,” Luiten told KGW. “Faith for healing, faith for life after death, faith for it all.”
Primachenko and her husband chose the newborn’s name for its symbolic meaning, she said.
“It means ‘breath of life,’” the mother said, “so she’s our new little breath of life.”
The new baby joins her big sister, Emily, who is only about 10 months older than her newborn sibling since Ava was born prematurely.
“Even in the hardest days and the hardest times, there’s hope,” Primachenko said. “And you can rely on God and people and community. The amount of community people that were praying for me is just unbelievable. I was blown away and I’m so incredibly thankful. And I feel like I’m a miracle walking.”