A mother gave birth without her knowledge while fighting for her life. Nokuthula Gumede was 36 weeks pregnant when she developed severe Covid-19 complications and required weeks in intensive care in Netcare Kingsway Hospital.
Sedated and on a ventilator, while she fought for her life, her baby boy had to be delivered by caesarean section on 17 July. Even though she had no memory of her time under sedation or of the birth of her son, her first thought when she came around was to ask where her baby was.
“Ms Gumede was in a serious condition and developed several complications, including a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) in her right leg during her weeks in ICU, so she made a truly remarkable recovery, which the staff at the hospital are all celebrating. Her partner said he would often sit in his car outside the hospital and send her thoughts of strength and courage, and considers her survival nothing short of a miracle,” said hospital general manager, Anna Demetriou.
“When Ms Gumede was taken off ventilation and brought around, she was so overwhelmed with everything that had happened, 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 him in hospital for the first time after almost a month.”
Being pregnant and feeling unwell, she went to the hospital on 13 July and was immediately admitted for a suspected Covid-19 infection, a diagnosis that was confirmed the following day. Her treating pulmonologist, Dr Sabeer Abdool Gaffar, said she was coughing and suffering from a shortness of breath. X-rays revealed Covid-19-related pneumonia in both lungs and she was admitted to ICU and placed on a ventilator.
According to Dr Gaffar, Nokuthula’s condition deteriorated rapidly over the next couple of days. Dr Gaffar, gynaecologist Dr Nitasha Magan and nephrologist Dr Priyesh Mody consulted and together concluded that the baby would have to be delivered immediately via caesarean section in order to save the mother’s life. “Even though delivered four weeks early, the little boy thrived under the care of the maternity and neonatal ICU staff, and was showered with love and encouragement until he was discharged from the unit,” said Anna.
“Ms Gumede’s eldest daughter Anele Samkelisiwe committed to keeping her little brother well and took him under her wing while her mother was ill. She spent many hours with him in hospital, bonding and getting to know his intricate habits. Confident that her mother would beat the virus, she showed the most wonderful and inspiring commitment to her mother and little brother.”
Dr Gaffar said that Ms Gumede, who was discharged on 21 August after a total of six weeks in hospital and although she is still weak and undergoing physiotherapy to assist her to walk once more and using a walking stick, continues to recover strongly. She will remain on blood thinning medication for the next six months to reduce the risk of any further blood clots.
“Ms Gumede’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.”