CHARLESTON, S.C. (WBTW) — An Myrtle Beach woman who tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized when she was seven months pregnant recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Prem Koonkhuntod of Myrtle Beach was seven months pregnant when she tested positive. She had not been vaccinated.
Dr. Rebecca Wineland, medical director of labor and delivery at MUSC Charleston, said only 23% of pregnant people nationwide have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Koonkhuntod went to the Conway Medical Center, then was sent to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston as her symptoms worsened. She was put on a ventilator and then an ECMO machine, which oxygenates blood so the lungs don’t have to. At one point, her heart stopped.
“They took me to the ICU, and after that, I don’t remember,” Koonkhuntod said. “They told me they were going to put me to sleep.”
When she woke up, she asked the doctors where her baby was.
“They told me the baby was strong and healthy,” Koonkhuntod said. “That was good news for me.”
Her son was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit after he was delivered by Caesarean section while she was on the ECMO machine.
She said she didn’t get the vaccine because she was worried about the effects it might have on her baby. She has since changed her mind.
“I think everyone, even pregnant people should get the vaccine,” she said.
Wineland agreed, adding that there is more information than ever before available regarding the COVID vaccine and pregnancy. She said it is important that pregnant people get vaccinated because the virus affects the baby in the same way it does a parent.
“This vaccine is safe whether you’re trying to conceive, newly pregnant, in any trimester, postpartum or lactating,” Wineland said.
She said pregnant people are at much higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19 than the general population.
Koonkhuntod said she has been told that she and her baby might be able to return home as soon as the beginning of October.