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Detroit mother spends 33 days on ventilator right after emergency birth due to COVID-19

MaElana Barcenas shares story of surviving coronavirus scare to be with newborn child

DETROITv – A pregnant Detroit mother who was forced to have an emergency birth when she tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) immediately went on a ventilator for 33 days before waking up to meet her month-old child for the first time.

When MaElana Barcenas was 30 weeks pregnant in March, she went to the hospital with pre-eclampsia.

“I’ve been there for about four or five days and I was trying to find my blood pressure was stabilized,” Barcenas said.

Doctors did an x-ray and told Barcenas she had tested positive for COVID-19. They said they would have to perform an emergency C-section because the coronavirus is very dangerous for the baby.

Her daughter was born safely, but those tender first moments between mother and child had to wait.

“They had to put my on a ventilator,” Barcenas said. “My kidneys were failing. I was having a hard time breathing.”

Doctors at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield said Barcenas’ case was complicated and she went into cardiac arrest more than once.

“We were able to bring her back,” Dr. Steve Miles said.

Barcenas spent 33 days on a ventilator before waking up.

“It was April 27,” Barcenas said. “So I have been (on it for) 33 days.”

“I think cases like this helped morale so much for the staff, to see that the hard work that’s paid off,” Miles said. “Everybody was adamant. We were not going to let that child grow up without a mom.”

“When I first work up, they told me, they’re, like, ‘You had a baby,’” Barcenas said. “I was, like, ‘I have a baby?’ They’re, like, ‘Yeah, you had a baby.’ I was, like, ‘Wow.’

“I really didn’t remember that I was pregnant or that I had a baby, but then as I started to become more conscious, ‘I did have a baby. I was pregnant,’ or whatever, and I couldn’t wait to see her."

Doctors said Barcenas was very weak when she woke up and required rehabilitation to regain her independence with self-care.

“I went to rehab," Barcenas said. "I had to learn to walk again, learn how to feed myself and learn how to do everything all over again.”

Her baby spent a month in the hospital, also fighting COVID-19.

“When I saw her the day that I came home, it was just amazing,” Barcenas said. “I created this little life and she fought as hard as I did to stay here, and now here she is.”

Now at home, Barcenas said she can hold her daughter all day long.

“I love feedings,” Barcenas said. “I love dressing her up. I like the diaper changes, all the little stuff that we do that binds us together.”

She said she will never take the little moments with her daughter for granted.

Barcenas is still recovering and receiving rehab at home.


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