Esbedy’s Journey: Battling COVID-19 while pregnant

by: Jade Waddy

Esbedy Reyes’ journey to become a mom for the third time was one she looked forward to. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, she practiced caution in order to protect herself and her unborn daughter.

“I knew I was considered high-risk so I was very careful about where I was going and who I was around because I just didn’t know,” said Reyes.

At the end of May she woke up feeling extremely fatigued and experiencing a headache that would not go away. Two days later, things began to drastically change. She took her temperature and she had a fever of 102 degrees.

“It was at that time, I knew my husband and I needed to go to the emergency room because I was pregnant and things were not getting better,” said Reyes. Her husband took her to Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital where she would test positive for COVID-19. Reyes was not experiencing breathing challenges so she was discharged and told to quarantine at home. Following protocol, doctors asked her to return if she began experiencing trouble breathing.

Six days later, it was hard for her to breathe. “It was terrifying to experience but as soon as we got back to the hospital, they took me right away to put me on oxygen to help my breathing,” she added. “I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my husband and due to no visitors being allowed in the hospital, he couldn’t come back with me. I was scared.”

At 26 weeks pregnant, Reyes was transferred from Memorial Hermann Greater Heights to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and taken to the intensive care unit (ICU). It was at Memorial Hermann-TMC where doctors felt Reyes was a good candidate to receive convalescent plasma, an experimental treatment being used to treat patients with COVID-19 under a UTHealth expanded access research protocol led by the Mayo Clinic

“We felt Mrs. Reyes was a good candidate to receive the plasma and she quickly benefited from the infusion,” said Dr. Henry Wang, attending emergency medicine physician at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and professor and executive vice chair of research in the Department of Emergency Medicine with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Wang is also the co-investigator of the Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program. Trial investigating the efficacy of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 patients.

After a week in the ICU, Reyes recovered and five days later she was discharged home. “I was very scared for myself and my baby, but I’m so thankful for the doctors and nurses that took care of me,” she said. “When I got back to my husband and children, I was crying so hard.”

“Back in May and June, we all saw the news and you just don’t expect that you can get the virus, but you can,” Reyes said. “I want everyone to know this virus is real and it can make you very sick or kill you so wear your mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.”

Nearly two months after she left the hospital, Reyes and her husband welcomed little Ari Amor into the world. “She’s my soldier, she was the only one in the hospital with me and we beat COVID-19 together,” said Reyes.

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