Laura Curtis wants people to know there can be life after a severe Covid-19 infection. In her case, there were two.
The 29-year-old from Baldoyle in Dublin was 21 weeks’ pregnant when she ended up on a ventilator in Beaumont Hospital’s intensive care unit after being diagnosed with the disease last March.
Before being put in an induced coma, she remembers struggling for breath and becoming hysterical as doctors pointed out that her pregnancy was not viable at 21 weeks and their priority would be keeping her alive.
“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to hear,” said the youth worker, who suffered a miscarriage a year ago. “I didn’t want to lose another one.”
What Curtis did not know was that while she spent 17 days in an induced coma, doctors and nurses from Beaumont and the Rotunda maternity hospital were working to save her and her daughter.
She was oblivious to the fact that her partner, Robbie Dalton, who tested positive for Covid-19 at around the same time Curtis, was keeping tabs on their baby thanks to the wonders of technology and the dedication of medical staff.
When Dr Maria Kennelly, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Rotunda, came to scan the baby, staff at Beaumont made sure Dalton had a bird’s eye view.
“They FaceTimed his phone while Maria was scanning my belly so he could see it live,” said Curtis. “It was mad. He could see her while I was asleep in the coma.”
When the medics woke Curtis up, she assumed she had lost the baby because of her last conversation with doctors.
“Robbie was sitting there masked and gowned. They had let him in for half an hour. I told him ‘you know I’m not pregnant any more’ and he said ‘you are Laura’,” she recalled.
Curtis said he played her a recording of the baby’s heartbeat that the medics had sent on and “that’s how I found out I was still pregnant”.
Initially, she found the news difficult to grasp, not least because while in the coma she had believed she was visiting places such as Dubai and Poland.
The couple’s daughter, Demi, was born in the Rotunda on July 14th, weighing in at 7lb 2oz.
“We are both doing well and are both here to tell the tale. She is perfect – 10 fingers, 10 toes. Everyone tells me she is a miracle baby and she is,” Curtis says.
“Without the staff in Beaumont Hospital I would not be alive today. Thanks to them and the staff in the Rotunda we are both here. I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve. They really went above and beyond for us.”
“I am so thankful to be still alive and to have Demi. Maybe if this had happened a year earlier they would not have known so much about Covid . Maybe it’s good it happened when it did.”