Local News

After COVID scare, weeks in hospital, new mom encourages others to get vaccine

Posted September 8, 2021 5:41 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2021 5:55 p.m. EDT

— According to Duke University health experts, pregnant, unvaccinated women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. A local mom experienced this firsthand, battling the virus for weeks in the hospital.

Felicia Cabrera-Saez thought she had a sinus infection. She planned to get it checked out, get some medicine and go home. Instead, she was rushed to the emergency room at Duke University Hospital and then spent 45 days fighting for her life.

“I tell people all the time my son saved my life,” said Cabrera-Saez.

She was almost five months pregnant when doctors rushed to begin life saving treatment because her oxygen level was at 50%. Her lungs were scarred, and her heart was struggling to beat. If she wasn’t pregnant, she said she would have continued to brush off the signs of illness.

“I had just recorded a living will for my daughter in the hospital. I just thought I was going to die. I was that sick,” she said, wiping away tears.

From that moment, it was an up-and-down battle. Cabrera-Saez had to be intubated and put on a ventilator. At one point, she said she was in and out of consciousness and nearly died three times.

“They had to put me on ECMO. It’s like the last thing they do for people they try to save. They said I was doing really bad and I was going to die. They were going to take my baby,” she said.

But it was her unborn baby, Jayden, and daughter, Makayla, that motivated her to pull through.

“I prayed to God. I made peace with if I was to go, that everything was going to be OK with my family and my child. But I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go,” she added.

Then things began to take a turn for the better. On May 28, Cabrera-Saez was released from the hospital and reunited with her daughter. In July, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

“I just can’t believe what a miracle he was and that he was here. I’m gonna be spending the rest of my life thanking him for saving me,” she said.

Early in her pregnancy, Cabrera-Saez was hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Now she’s sharing her story to encourage other pregnant women to get the shot.

“If you can get the vaccine, get it. What I went through, I wouldn’t wish that pain, I wouldn’t wish that fear, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Take it from me. Me and my son are walking miracles. We survived,” she added.

Cabrera-Saez is still dealing with lingering COVID-19 effects. She’s living with a relative in Cary who’s helping care for her and her family. She recently received her first vaccination and is awaiting the second.

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