A DAD has spoken of his agony after being told to say goodbye to his unborn baby and healthy wife, 34, who had contracted Covid.
Tommy Larkins said his “world came crashing down” when doctors told him to prepare for the worst.
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His wife Elsa was rushed to Kingston Hospital, south-east London, just after Christmas.
The couple, who have two daughters, were due to have their third baby in March, and so Elsa was heavily pregnant.
She has no underlying health issues. But previously, pregnant women with severe Covid and more likely to be in their third trimester.
Doctors say her bump could have made her symptoms worse because it was pressing on her lungs.
Tommy told Sky News: "It was a life-threatening situation for her and our unborn baby.
"It was terrifying, the most terrifying thing I've been through in my life, it was awful.
"To potentially lose the pair of them on the same night it was really bad. I'd never wish it on anybody else."
Elsa’s condition got rapidly worse when she got to the hospital. She was put on oxygen, but her disease kept getting more severe, Tommy said.
She was taken to an intensive care unit, put into a coma and intubated – when a breathing tube is inserted down the windpipe.
Tommy said: "She was really sick. I'd been told to say my last goodbye to my other half – and to my unborn baby as well. Your world comes crashing down.”
Tommy broke the news to his young daughters Melisa and Alba, telling them, “mummy’s on a knife edge”.
On January 5, doctors decided to deliver Elsa’s baby by emergency C-section, two months before her due date.
Florence – named after the doctors and nurses at the hospital – was born successfully and put straight onto life support because she was so small, weighing just 3lbs (1.4kg).
Are pregnant women at risk of Covid?
Current evidence from the UK suggests that pregnant women are at no greater risk of catching the coronavirus or becoming seriously unwell than other healthy adults.
The majority of pregnant women experience only mild or moderate symptoms.
Pregnant women are on the moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) list as a precaution.
The NHS says: "If you're at moderate risk from coronavirus, it's very important to follow social distancing advice to reduce your chances of catching or spreading the virus."
Information about all pregnant women with Covid is tracked in a registry called the UK Obstetric Surveillance System.
The first report of findings, in May, found that one in ten women required intensive care.
OF the 427 pregnant women admitted to hospital, five sadly died. It is not clear if Covid was directly their cause of death.
Women who did become severely ill were in their third trimester of pregnancy.
Risk factors included being over the age of 35, having a high BMI or underling health condition, and being from Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
Studies suggest Covid is unlikely to cause problems with the baby, either causing miscarriage or problems after birth.
But global reports say babies have been born prematurely to women with severe Covid.
Source: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Tommy has been able to hold Florence, which he said was “the best feeling in the world”.
But Elsa is still in treatment, and is yet to meet her tiny baby.
Tommy said they are “not out of the woods yet” – and it may be several weeks before the family is all together.
Pregnant women are not any more at risk of catching the coronavirus or getting severely unwell with the disease than other women their age.
Current evidence suggests Covid is unlikely to cause problems with the baby, either causing miscarriage or problems after birth.
But global reports say babies have been born prematurely to women with severe Covid – as was the case with Elsa.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says: “It is unclear whether coronavirus caused these premature births, or whether it was recommended that their babies were born early for the benefit of the women’s health and to enable them to recover.”
Gags Sekhon was one of the intensive care nurses who cared for Elsa.
He said: "She was struggling to breathe. I think the difficulty with that was because she was heavily pregnant.
"The big bump she had was pushing on her lungs. As Covid had infected her lungs she was finding it difficult to breathe anyway and then with the added pressure of baby squeezing on the bottom of her lungs it was making it even more difficult.”
Elsa is also the youngest patient to have been on the hospital’s ward.
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