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Coronavirus: joy for nurse finally able to hold baby daughter after Covid-19 scare

Priyanka Sumesh was separated from her newborn child for several weeks after contracting the virus deep into her pregnancy

Nurse Priyanka Sumesh with her husband Sumesh Joseph and their daughter Prarthana. Antonie Robertson/The National
Nurse Priyanka Sumesh with her husband Sumesh Joseph and their daughter Prarthana. Antonie Robertson/The National

A nurse who contracted Covid-19 while heavily pregnant is celebrating a special Eid Al Adha with the newest addition to her family.

Priyanka Sumesh, a staff nurse at Thumbay Hospital in Ajman, had longed for a daughter to join her two sons, aged 8 and 6, for many years.

Joy turned to dismay when the 34-year-old tested positive for the virus on May 21, 32 weeks into her pregnancy.

She was admitted to a room in the hospital she has served others for ten years and within days was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) as her health declined and she developed pneumonia.

The decision was made to deliver her long-awaited baby girl by Caesarean section on May 27.

“Nurse Priyanka was a high risk patient and there was a difficulty for us as doctors in terms of what medication to give her or not, so it was decided to operate on her to deliver the baby,” said Dr Rajashree Ganesh.

“We give our maximum to patients in order to be satisfied with ourselves and to overcome this crisis.”

Baby Prarthana was sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Thumbay hospital while her mother remained in the ICU.

“With the baby safe and being taken care of, the entire focus of treatment was hundred percent on the mother,” said Dr Ganesh.

Ms Sumesh had a long road to recovery ahead of her and required the support of a ventilator for around three weeks.

“I have two boys who are with my family in India, but I was waiting to have a daughter for seven years,” Ms Sumesh told The National.

“I know I was unconscious, but I still had faith that I will be with my family and loved ones again, and I was not going to give up.”

She was finally well enough to be discharged from hospital early last month, with her baby girl released the following day to set up their long overdue first meeting.

Priyanka Sumesh and husband Sumesh Joseph and their daughter Prarthana with staff at Thumbay Hospital in Ajman. Antonie Robertson/The National
Priyanka Sumesh and husband Sumesh Joseph and their daughter Prarthana with staff at Thumbay Hospital in Ajman. Antonie Robertson/The National

“I was full of emotions, I was very happy and also very surprised because I was looking at a baby I had been waiting for, for so long,” said Ms Sumesh.

The family received more good news when the hospital said it would cover Ms Sumesh's medical costs.

Her husband, Sumesh Joseph, 39, juggled his time between ICU and NICU rooms for 45 days to check on his wife and daughter, but he never lost hope.

“Instead of fear, I was filled with faith and hope that both are coming back to me," he said.

“We were surrounded with much love, support and prayer by everyone here and even before I knew Thumbay administration would cover for her treatment costs, I had faith it will work out somehow.”

“Even our children, parents and family members back in India had faith she will be fine.”

Hospital staff had a celebratory get-together with their colleague before she was released.

“For us at Thumbay hospital, we consider each other family, and taking care of Priyanka, including her full medical treatment costs, was taking care of our own,” said Dr Mohammad Faisal Parvez, chief operating officer of Thumbay Ajman Hospital.

The Indian couple, who hail from Kerala, are planning to fly back home next week to be with family.

Updated: August 1, 2020 09:33 AM

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