After surviving three strokes, a heart attack and COVID-19 while pregnant, Kingwood resident Diana Crouch now tells people that getting the vaccine should have been the least of her worries.
The 28-year-old was hospitalized for 139 days after being diagnosed with COVID pneumonia in August 2021. Diana and her husband, Chris, were not initially concerned about having a baby during the pandemic- they already had two children and they considered themselves very healthy.
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“I didn’t really have any concerns about it,” Diana said. “What could possibly go wrong if you eat healthy and you’ve had kids before? You don’t really think much of it besides it being another flu.”
Chris said they were not vaccinated at the time and they didn’t know how susceptible pregnant women are to COVID-19. Diana also said they both tested positive a year earlier and lost their sense of taste and smell but she didn’t think she would test positive again.
On August 4, 2021, the couple went to Kingwood ER because Diana, who was a few months pregnant, was fatigued and had a low-grade fever. She tested positive for COVID-19 and they were sent home with instructions to monitor her oxygen levels.
The next night, Diana said she couldn’t breathe. Chris tested her oxygen and immediately brought her back to the emergency room.
“They said that she had COVID pneumonia and rushed her to Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women,” Chris said.
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On August 10, Diana was put on a ventilator and was sedated. She would go on to stay at the hospital for about four and a half months with Chris and their extended family by her side.
Weeks on ECMO
When Diana’s condition didn’t improve, her doctors made the decision to put her on ECMO, a life support machine for patients with severe and life-threatening illnesses. While under life-support and sedated for weeks, Chris would pray for the health of his wife and unborn child.
Diana showed signs of improvement, but when she was 25 weeks pregnant and still under ECMO treatment, she survived three strokes on the same day, had seizures and then had a heart attack.
Around five weeks later, Diana’s lung collapsed and needed an emergency cesarean section.
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Three days later, Diana was introduced to her newborn son, Cameron, who was named after the doctor that saved Diana’s life.
Diana was taken off the ventilator 10 days later and was finally released from the hospital on Dec. 23. Diana said her doctors are expecting for her to make a full recovery.
“My doctors are working with me religiously,” Diana said. “My doctor expects me to do a full recovery, so that’s what we’re aiming for, just to go back to a new normal.”
Chris said that Diana didn’t lose any cognitive function after her strokes and remembers faces and names, but she doesn’t remember much from her time at the hospital. Her left hand is the only part of her that is still physically weak and she is still breathing with assisted oxygen.
“With the physical and occupational therapy, we anticipate probably another three or four months and she’ll probably be back to close to normal,” Chris said.
Diana said that the situation makes raising her newborn a lot different than it was for raising her two other children.
“Now everything is different,” Diana said. “Cameron is basically being raised by his grandparents right now. For our other two children, it used to be my husband and I getting up all the time, changing diapers. Now I don’t do any of that stuff.”
Could the vaccine have helped?
Before her hospitalization, Diana had concerns about what was in the COVID-19 vaccine and if it would affect her newborn.
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“After everything that I went through, all the drugs they put in my body, that should have been the least of my worries,” Diana said. “I was on so many drugs, very strong drugs, and so much was done to my body, I just don’t think the vaccine could have been that bad for me.”
“We’ll never know if getting the vaccine would have made a difference, but it could have made a difference,” Diana said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are pregnant or recently pregnant are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to people who are not pregnant. The COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future.