Pregnant mother with COVID pneumonia feared doctors would save baby – and not her
BREWSTER, NY (WPIX) – When Cecilia Vega-Britez, a 36-year-old mother in New York City, was hospitalized with COVID pneumonia last week, six and a half months pregnant with her fifth son, she began to worry when she has not had her second dose of the antiviral Remdesivir.
So Vega-Britez took a Facebook Live from her hospital bed in Westchester, demanding to know what her treatment regimen was, even though she was having difficulty breathing. She said her treatment plan was to receive Remdesivir every 24 hours.
“I was not treated for 26 hours,” she said through her oxygen mask. “I am very scared for my life.
Vega-Britez had chosen not to receive the COVID vaccine during early pregnancy, and the hospital was actually giving her several treatments for the virus, including a steroid that was effective in strengthening her lungs and those of her unborn baby.
“The phone calls weren’t going through,” she said. “They weren’t communicating with my husband.
The crisis also caused Vega-Britez to reflect on her decision not to get the vaccine, a decision she now regrets.
“I ended up introducing so many other chemicals into my body and into my baby,” Vega-Britez told Nexstar’s WPIX when they visited his Brewster home.
Fertility and infectious disease experts explained that numerous studies have shown that the COVID vaccine does not harm the unborn child and works well in preventing serious illness in the pregnant mother.
“You are more susceptible to respiratory illnesses,” said Dr Laila Woc-Colburn of Emory University of pregnant women, whose immune systems are sometimes compromised. “You get the jab, you get the immunity, it saves you.”
Dr Anate Brauer, Shady Grove Fertility Specialist in Manhattan, pointed to a recent New England Journal of Medicine study that looked at 35,000 pregnant women whose results did not change after receiving the vaccine.
“The vaccine itself does not cross the placenta,” said Dr Brauer. “But, your body makes antibodies against the virus which cross the placenta and, therefore, protect the fetus.”
The two doctors also expressed concern over well-known figures on social media making negative statements about the vaccine. Superstar Nicki Minaj recently tweeted “My cousin in Trinidad will not get the vaccine because his friend got it and has become helpless.”
Dr Brauer has said this about public figures who have many followers: “It is up to them to back up their statements with data,” Dr Brauer said. “The vaccine has no impact, either short term or long term, on sperm parameters.”
Vega-Britez said she now has a much more positive view of the vaccine.
When she took to Facebook Live on September 15, after being transferred to the labor and delivery unit of a larger hospital, her perception was that the baby’s health was the doctors’ only concern.
“They are preparing the baby and they are not treating my pneumonia,” she said. “I am very scared for my life.
“I’m making the video as proof that I’m scared for my life,” she continued, “that they’re going to come and say we have to take your baby and put you on a ventilator.”
Ultimately, the mother’s health improved, and as a result, an emergency cesarean was not required. Vega-Britez returned home to her family this week after eight days in the hospital.
“In my mind, I’m like, ‘Why would I give this vaccine to an unborn child whose organs have not yet been fully developed?’ Vega-Britez asked, explaining why she initially resisted the vaccine.
The mother’s four sons fell ill with COVID, starting with her eldest, a 16-year-old teenager. He had not made an appointment to get the vaccine and visited a friend in Queens.
“He went to his friend’s house and he said he would do it after that and then it all started,” said Arnaldo Britez, Vega-Britez’s husband.
Britez, a New York City worker, was the only person in the household who was vaccinated – and the only one who did not get sick.
His wife is now advising pregnant women to get vaccinated to avoid complications from COVID-19.
“If you end up in the hospital it won’t be pretty,” Vega-Britez said. “If you can, get vaccinated. “
Vega-Britez noted that communications between the doctors and herself improved dramatically after doing Facebook Live.
And although she was initially upset with what she called miscommunication, Vega-Britez knows doctors got her through the COVID crisis, with her pregnancy intact.
“Whatever happened in the hospital they ended up saving my life,” she said.