02 Jan Coronavirus doctor’s diary: ‘Close to death from Covid, I asked them to save my baby’
When a young woman was brought to hospital struggling to breathe and seven months pregnant, staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary knew they had two lives to save, writes Dr John Wright.
Mehpara Naqvi is 22, a graduate of Bedfordshire university who came to live in Bradford with her husband, Ali, and his family. They weren’t going out much after Covid arrived, she says, just to the supermarket and to buy things for their baby, who was due in December.
But at the start of October, Mehpara got a headache and a cough. Then she started losing her sense of taste and smell, and realised that she probably had Covid. She and Ali isolated in their room at the top of the house; Ali’s mother left food outside their door on a tray.
In only two or three days, though, Mehpara’s breathing became so bad that Ali called an ambulance. On her first night in hospital her condition deteriorated even further and she was moved to ICU.
In the first wave of Covid, back in the spring, we had no patients who were both pregnant and critically ill. Mehpara was the first, and Debbie Horner, our maternal critical care lead, took a close interest.
Midwives and obstetricians had been checking the baby’s heart rate, and she was fine, Debbie told Mehpara, so at that point the best place for her was in the womb. But she added that it might at some point be in Mehpara’s best interests for the baby to be delivered, by Caesarean section, because at seven months she would be fine in an incubator on the neonatal ward. She also explained this by telephone to Ali.