A mother who gave birth to her fourth child while battling coronavirus died before ever getting to hold her baby boy.
Wogene Debele, 43, from Takoma Park, Maryland, was eight months pregnant when she was admitted to the hospital on March 25. After testing positive for COVID-19, she was induced that evening and welcomed her son Levi a month premature, the Washington Post reported.
The baby, who had not contracted the virus, was rushed into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) without ever being held by his mother. Debele died on Tuesday, more than three weeks after she gave birth.
In addition to the baby boy she never got to meet, Debele left behind her husband, Yilma Asfaw Tadesse, 50, and their three other children, Mihret, 17, Naod, 10, and Asher, 4.
Debele and Tadesse met in their native Ethiopia and immigrated to the U.S. with their family about 10 years ago. The stay-at-home mom was active in the local Ethiopian community and a member of the International Evangelical Ethiopian Church in Washington, D.C.
Debele’s family told The Post that she began exhibiting coronavirus symptoms such as loss of appetite and coughing, but when she went to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Springs, she was told she was not sick enough to be tested.
The mom’s fever rose and she lost her sense of smell, but even as her condition worsened, doctors advised her to stay home, her family said.
Before returning to the hospital for a second time, she told her sons Naod and Ashery that she was ‘going to get a checkup’ and would ‘be right back.’ It was the last time her children would see her.
After she called her family to say the hospital was going to keep her overnight, her blood oxygen levels dramatically dropped and her blood pressure rose. Doctors had to induce her and the baby was separated from her to prevent him from catching the highly contagious virus.
A few days later, Debele was transported to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and put on a ventilator. Just when she seemed to be getting better, her condition would deteriorate again.
The hospital used Zoom to video chat the family so they could see her, but she was too ill to speak with them.
Levi spent 21 days in the NICU at Holy Cross before his quarantined family was able to bring him home on April 19. Debele died two days after they met their newest addition for the first time.
‘My heart is broken,’ Tadesse told The Post. ‘I don’t know what to do without her.’