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When most expecting moms are designing baby rooms, deciding on names and attending baby showers, Ariel Romero was in Medical City McKinney’s ICU with COVID-19, fighting for life.

Hospitalized just weeks into her second trimester, Ariel spent 62 days in the ICU, a month of which she was in a coma, intubated, given a tracheostomy and placed on a ventilator. In addition to caring for Ariel’s health, the ICU team kept daily tabs on her unborn baby’s growth by monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and performing ultrasounds.  

“Ariel was our first pregnant mom that needed to be intubated due to COVID-19. Our concerns were for both mom and baby,” says Dara Otu, MD, Medical City McKinney pulmonologist. “With collaboration with our expert team of clinicians, we worked to ensure the medications and therapies required for Ariel were also safe for the baby.”

After more than nine weeks in ICU, Ariel transitioned to the progressive care unit, where she continued to regain her strength before moving to inpatient rehabilitation.

“I was not mobile. I needed to learn how to walk and become more independent,” Ariel says. “I needed to get stronger to go home, get back to my life and get ready for the baby.”

“Ariel’s recovery is remarkable. In therapy, we focused on ensuring she had the physical strength she needed to give birth to and care for a newborn,” says Steven Avers, DO, physiatrist with Medical City McKinney inpatient rehabilitation unit. “Ariel kept a consistently positive attitude and worked hard so she could regain her abilities to enjoy her last trimester at home.”

Several days before Ariel’s scheduled discharge date, the inpatient rehab and ICU nurses along with her rehabilitation therapists surprised Ariel and her husband, Joseph, with a baby shower.

“I was in the hospital so long that everyone was like family,” says Ariel. “The baby shower was a surprise. We got a lot of diapers and clothes. It was amazing. Everything was such a blessing.”

Leaving the hospital on October 21, Ariel returned home with several therapy workout routines and the knowledge of body movements that would help her strengthen her muscles and prepare for her daughter’s birth. Josie Ann Romero arrived a few weeks before her January 12 due date and was born at Medical City McKinney on Christmas day, weighing 5lbs. and 7oz.

One month after delivering her healthy baby girl, Ariel Romero reflects positively on her recovery and the care she received at Medical City McKinney, and shares her excitement to be home with her family.

“For a while, it seemed like it was just her and me against the world,” says Ariel. “But Medical City McKinney was there for us. They were there for my baby and my husband. They are a support team for the entire family. I brag about everyone there all the time.”

“I am looking forward to the new normal for us. We are taking it one day at a time, and enjoying being together as a family,” Ariel says.

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