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Mom and baby reunite after feared death from COVID-19
Incredible mother beats COVID -19 and reunites with lost baby boy
In a beautiful but stranger-than-fiction story, local nurse Nosipho Nkantini met her son for the first time – three weeks after he was born. The emotional meeting came after an intensive search for the new mother by both healthcare workers and the police. Nosipho had left the hospital believing her baby – born under Cesarian-section while she was unconscious and on ventilator support for COVID-19 – could not and had not survived.
What followed then was a set of circumstances and occurrences that are a reflection of craziness of this time of Covid.
A MISGUIDED PRESCRIPTION FOR NOSIPHO
About half-way through Nosipho’s pregnancy, she started developing COVID-19 symptoms and took herself to see her general practitioner. However, she was sent home with an antibiotic prescription. On a routine pregnancy check-up, Nosipho recalls feeling “very short of breath. I had a rapid COVID-19 test, and it came back negative. Still, I couldn’t breathe, and it was terrifying. I couldn’t have X-rays or certain treatments for my symptoms because I was pregnant. My second COVID-19 test came back positive.”
Soon afterwards Nosipho was transferred to Netcare N1 City Hospital in Goodwood where, on arrival, she lost consciousness. She was immediately placed on a ventilator in the hospital’s ‘red zone’.
DAYS LATER, NOSIPHO IS AWAKE BUT NO LONGER PREGNANT
“From then I can’t remember anything until I woke up days later when I was told that I had suffered complications and my baby had been delivered by emergency C-section,” Nosipho says. “They told me my baby is in the NICU, but I was so overwhelmed. Apart from the fact that I was still very weak recovering from COVID, I previously lost a baby who was delivered at 28 weeks, so I was extremely traumatised imagining this happening again.”
Nosipho was later discharged from the hospital, but her baby boy was kept in the NICU for specialised life support. She went home, in despair. “I was too scared to phone the hospital because I had convinced myself my baby had died,” she said, “and I couldn’t bear to have my worst fears confirmed. Christmas without him was terrible. I was so, so stressed.”
MUM EXPERIENCED “DOUBLE SEPARATION”
Neonatologist Dr Ricky Dippenaar, who practises at Netcare N1 City Hospital, explained that many mothers whose new-borns end up in a NICU environment experience “double separation”, “when the mother cannot hold her baby and can no longer feel the baby inside her. Psychologically this is very tough, and in this case, it was further compounded by the mother’s history and traumatic COVID-19 experience.”
Thankfully the baby tested negative (often the case with babies born to covid-positive mothers, said Dippenaar) and was very much alive, but Nosipho – who had been admitted under emergency conditions – could not be traced because the details were outdated. From then on finding her became increasingly urgent and the festive season did not make it easy on social worker Ronel Grobler.
POLICE AND NURSES JOIN FORCES TO FIND NOSIPHO
“We were very concerned about Nosipho, and when all else failed we contacted the local police, who promised to assist us in the search,” says Grobler. They threw themselves into the task and were successful – but their arrival terrified Nosipho.
“When the police arrived at my home,” she said, “I thought they were coming to tell me that my baby had died. I could not believe it when they told me my baby boy is fine and he is waiting for me in the hospital. It was such a big relief, and afterwards, the police said, ‘we didn’t mean to scare you’.”
THE NURSES ARE CALLING HIM “A MIRACLE BABY”
Finally, on 4 January, Nosipho Nkantini reunited with her baby boy, Oyena, meaning ‘the one chosen by God’. “I was so happy, but at the same time, it was very difficult not being able to hold him at first. The staff in the NICU were saying he’s a miracle baby, and we hope that he will soon grow strong enough to take him home.”
TAKE COVID-19 SERIOUSLY, NEW MUM APPEALS
Nosipho appealed to the public to take COVID-19 seriously and do everything possible to prevent its spread. “This virus moves so fast, and it can have devastating effects,” she said. “By the time someone in the family becomes sick, often the virus has already infected their loved ones and the people around them. COVID-19 is real, and we must protect each other by following all the precautions.”
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