BAY SHORE, Long Island — On April 2, no one dared dream the scene that unfolded Wednesday afternoon at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, Long Island.
That’s when Yanira Soriano, 36, arrived. She was critically ill with COVID-19 and pneumonia.
And she was 34 weeks pregnant.
The medical team put her on a ventilator and scheduled an emergency C-section.
“She was very scared, “ said Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gina Murza. “You could see it in her eyes. It was the most horrible thing.”
A woman is usually conscious during a C-section. But not this time. The staff felt the fear.
“The fear that this mother would die, and this baby would live its life without knowing its mother.” Dr. Benjamin Schwartz the head OBGYN told us.
According to a nurse who took care of Soriano, Ebony Marhall, “She just asked to promise to try to save her baby. She thought she was going to die. And the only thing that kept her alive, she kept praying for her baby.”
Her baby boy was born the next day.
But Yanira Soriano lingered near death. Isolated. Eleven days on a respirator in a medically induced coma. Nurse Denise Scheidel, who was there when Soriano went into the operating room, just happened to be in the ICU when Soriano regained consciousness.
“I was helping someone with a problem and I just noticed those big brown eyes looking back at me. I was like, ‘I know you!’”
The respirator came out Monday. On Wednesday, Soriano went home.
She rolled out of the hospital in a wheelchair as dozens looked on. Her husband was there, holding their 12-day-old baby boy Walter. As she took him in her arms, mother and son met for the first time to the raucous applause.
The team that took care of Soriano was overjoyed. Besides the women we’ve mentioned, they include nurses Allison Misa and Alexandra Santiago, as well as nurse managers Mary Moreira and Julie Lochner.
“Oh my God…I’m so happy!” Ebony Marshall exclaimed after she hugged her former patient in the back seat of the car that would take her home. “It makes me feel like everything I do is worth it.”
And, as Dr. Murza summed up the dramatic event that gave medicine and love a victory over the virus, “I’ve been doing this for 20-something years. I’ve never seen anything like this."
Editor's note: Soriano was placed on a ventilator and gave birth the day after her arrival at the hospital while intubated, as stated in the story above. That timeline was unclear in a previous mobile alert promoting this story.