Mother reunited with son after giving birth on ventilator with COVID-19

Posted at 9:15 AM, Apr 16, 2020

BAY SHORE, N.Y. — On April 2, no one dared dream the scene that unfolded Wednesday afternoon at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, Long Island.

That's when Yanira Soriano, 36, arrived. She was critically ill with COVID-19 and pneumonia — and she was 34 weeks pregnant.

The medical team put her on a ventilator and scheduled an emergency C-section.

"She was very scared, "said Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gina Murza. "You could see it in her eyes. It was the most horrible thing."

A woman is usually conscious during a C-section, but given Soriano's illness, doctors sedated her for the procedure. The staff feared for her life.

"The fear that this mother would die, and this baby would live its life without knowing its mother." Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, the head OBGYN at Southside Hospital, said.

"She just asked to promise to try to save her baby. She thought she was going to die," said Ebony Marshall, a nurse that treated Soriano. "And the only thing that kept her alive, she kept praying for her baby."

Her baby boy was born the next day, but Soriano lingered near death, isolated. She spent 11 days on a respirator in a medically-induced coma.

Nurse Denise Scheidel, who was there when Soriano went into the operating room, just happened to be in the ICU when Soriano regained consciousness.

"I was helping someone with a problem, and I just noticed those big brown eyes looking back at me. I was like, 'I know you!'" Scheidel said.

The respirator came out on Monday. On Wednesday, Soriano went home.

She rolled out of the hospital in a wheelchair as dozens looked on. Her husband was there, holding their 12-day-old baby boy, Walter. As she took him in her arms, mother and son met for the first time to raucous applause.

The team that took care of Soriano was overjoyed. Other nurses that cared for Soriano are Allison Misa and Alexandra Santiago, as well as nurse managers Mary Moreira and Julie Lochner.

"Oh my God… I'm so happy!" Ebony Marshall said. "It makes me feel like everything I do is worth it."

Murza summed up the dramatic event that gave medicine and love a victory over the virus.

"I've been doing this for 20-something years. I've never seen anything like this."

This story was originally published by Allen Levine, Cristian Benavides, Keith Lopez on WPIX in New York.