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Health Team

Pregnant woman survives H1N1

Posted November 23, 2009 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2009 6:20 p.m. EST

Pregnant women are among those most vulnerable to the H1N1 flu virus.

The Centers for Disease Control says that more than 100 pregnant women have been hospitalized in intensive care, and about 30 expectant mothers have died from the virus.

Jessica Cruz-Briscoe was weak, incoherent and seven months pregnant when her then-fiancee, Kevin Briscoe, brought her to the emergency room of Mercy San Juan Medical Center, near Sacramento, Calif.

The hospital chaplain and a doctor gave Briscoe disheartening news: "We don't know if she's going to pull through," he said.

Doctors at Mercy San Juan had never treated a pregnant woman with H1N1.

"That changes the whole ballgame as to how you manage a patient," Dr. Amit Karmakar said.

For 10 days, doctors tried to stabilize Jessica, and although her baby was healthy, they decided it was time for an emergency C-section.

The joy of a healthy new baby and namesake was tempered with worry for Briscoe.

"The excitement dies down, and you're like, 'Well, we have this beautiful baby boy, but mama's still in the hospital,'" he said.

Cruz-Briscoe was put into a drug-induced coma. As she came out of it, her memory was foggy.

"All the nurses kept saying, 'You had a baby.' And I'm going, 'No, I didn't,'" she recalled. "And I'd just stare at him, and I'd be in shock. Who are you?"

With close monitoring and medication, the 34-year-old survived and slowly recovered.

The near-death experience put life in perspective for the new parents: They committed to the engagement they had postponed for nine years.

"I said, 'Honey, will you marry me ?' again," Briscoe said. "She nodded yes. I said, 'Hey, it's on.'"

The couple wed on Oct. 10 – baby Kevin's due date.