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After almost dying from COVID, pregnant mom wakes up weeks later to meet new daughter

It has been a five-month recovery, now a Kentucky mother is home with her baby after an emergency C-section and one month on ECMO.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Michaela Dailey was in her third trimester when she found out she had COVID-19. It was late August and she was 33 weeks pregnant. Her whole family got it. 

She said she couldn't stay awake, sleeping for two days straight before going to the emergency room. 

"The last thing I remember them saying is 'We're calling your doctor, we have to take your baby.' Then I woke up at UofL and that was a month and a half later," said Dailey.

Dr. Victor Van Berkel, a thoracic surgeon with UofL Health, said they had to do a quick C-section because Dailey's oxygen was so low the baby was struggling.  

Dailey was still losing oxygen, dying while on a ventilator. Dr. Van Berkel said he had to get emergency privileges to operate and put her on ECMO at Hardin Memorial. 

"We were at the point where without the support of a machine, she would have passed away," he said.

When Dailey woke up, her first thought was her baby. The wall had pictures of her newborn girl who was already a month old. 

"I never got to experience the itty bitty stage of her," said Dailey.

Credit: UofL Health

As a preemie, mom and baby still had a long road ahead. Dailey became stronger working through Frazier's Pulmonary Rehab. When she first started, Dailey couldn't walk from her bedroom to her living room without getting out of breath.

This week, she finished her rehab and her daughter, Shawna, is now growing off the charts.

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Van Berkel works with the most severe cases of COVID and he said they all have one thing in common. 

"I haven't taken care of a single person who has been vaccinated," he said. "All of the people that I've taken care of have been unvaccinated and the people who have been really sick in the hospital are all unvaccinated."

Dailey wasn't vaccinated when she had COVID and said if she could go back and get the vaccine, she would. She would encourage her entire family to get it. While she was recovering, Dailey's mother died from COVID and her father developed blood clots from the virus. 

Now fully vaccinated, Dailey is urging other pregnant women to get the vaccine, too.

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