Battling COVID-19 & Pregnant: Denishar’s Story
This past spring, Denishar was 35 weeks pregnant when she came into Humber’s Apotex Emergency Department with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. She tested positive for COVID-19.
“I felt like I was suffocating when I arrived in the emergency room. They sent me upstairs and I had to have an emergency C-section right away. The last thing I remember was the doctor saying, ‘we are going to look after you. Everything is going to be okay,’” says Denishar.
Baby Zion was born weighing just over 6 pounds and was whisked away to Humber’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where he stayed for the next several days.
But Denishar had no idea what was happening with her son. She was in a fight for her own life.
Due to complications from COVID-19, Denishar spent the next 7 weeks in a coma. During this time she suffered a stroke and her breathing became even more laboured.
She was transferred to another Toronto hospital and put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) which let her heart and lungs rest while still pumping oxygen into her bloodstream. When Denishar became stronger and could breathe again on her own, she was transferred back to Humber.
“When I woke up from my coma, I had no idea so much time had passed. My C-section scar was healed and Zion was already a 7-week old baby,” recalls Denishar.
The combination of COVID-19, the stroke and lack of movement for weeks meant Denishar could no longer walk.
“The only thing I could think of was my son. I wanted to hold him and be able to care for him, but I couldn’t move the left side of my body and I couldn’t walk.”
Leigh, a Humber physiotherapist, recalls how he and his assistant Helen worked with Denishar to help her regain her mobility. “She was very determined to walk again and be the one caring for her baby. She did her exercises every moment she could to get stronger. In her last week at Humber, she was blowing by rehabilitation milestones. Her recovery was remarkable.”
While Denishar did not get to meet many of the doctors and nurses who took care of her while she was in a coma, she fondly remembers Leigh. She says, “I wouldn’t be walking if it weren’t for Leigh. He pushed me every day and helped me with my mobility. I was really motivated by him.”
Now out of the Hospital she says, “I’m a survivor – I survived this incredible ordeal and lived to tell others about it. I was so happy when I finally regained mobility and was able to hold my baby. He is doing very well. I’m so grateful to Leigh, the team that cared me for me at Humber and the team who cared for Zion in the NICU. Thank you!”