Mother urges people to get COVID-19 vaccine after near-death experience

In April, Fuentes was about 32 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
HAVERTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Chester County native Marissa Fuentes has been fighting to stay alive after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

In April, Fuentes was about 32 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Fuentes says she underwent an emergency C-section, delivering her baby boy, Enzo, prematurely, with a genetic disease.

Her husband could only see the two through FaceTime in the beginning.

"We got thrown this incredible curveball," said her husband, Adrian Fuentes.

Fuentes was airlifted from Paoli Hospital to Lankenau Medical Center.

Fuentes had severe COVID pneumonia, which caused her lungs to fail.

That lead to her needing the assistance of a ventilator. When that couldn't support her, she put on an ECMO machine.

The ECMO machine took blood out of her body, put oxygen into it, and cleared the carbon dioxide.

Her nurse, Elena Casanova, said most patients average 10-15 days on ECMO support. Fuentes lasted around five and half months.

Casanova called Fuentes a medical miracle.

"I feel like it," said Fuentes.

Fuentes was not vaccinated because Casanova said at the time there was a lot of uncertainty about the effects of the vaccine on the fetus, so medical professionals were not strongly recommending it.

Now, she says the data is more convincing to get vaccinated, and patients who are vaccinated have a much lower risk of getting severely ill.

"If you can get the vaccine, get it," said Fuentes. "Because it could save you, it could save your child's life."

Fuentes was able to see her newborn baby for the first time on her 29th birthday in September.

She just settled into Kindred Hospital, where she's undergoing specialized pulmonary and general rehab in the hopes that she can get to a new rehab location.

"You can't go through something like this, so intense for five and a half months, and not feel an eternal bond," said Casanova.

Swamped in medical bills, Fuentes says she can't wait to be home.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so excited. All I want to do is go see my babies, and love them and be the best mom I can be," said Fuentes.

Fuentes hopes to be out of Kindred Hospital in about a month or so. She's determined to get home and see her children.

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