How pregnancy complications saved an Arizona mother's life

It's a perfect Mother's Day gift for Maria - another day with her twins.

"Thankfully, I am celebrating my first Mother's Day with my mother who flew all the way from Zambia," said Arizona mom Maria Sibajene.

They're just a few months old, and her babies are treating her well. In fact, one of them saved her life during her pregnancy.

After tests showed the umbilical cord was wrapped around one of the twins, Maria went to the hospital to get examined further.

Dignity Health doctors found that something else was wrong. Maria was passing out and had a tough time breathing.

According to Dr. Rachel Bond, it was an infection that caused a condition called pericarditis.

"We were very lucky to catch it when we did, because what we were able to do upon catching it is adequately treat her, take her to the right hospital, and more importantly, put her on medicines to reduce the inflammation," Bond said.

Maria was rushed to Chandler Regional Medical Center. The expecting mother had COVID-19 a few months before she met her twins, and it caused inflammation around her heart.

"I didn't think it had any effect on my heart because I had had COVID before and never had a heart problem," Maria said.

Bond says it can be serious because the inflammation gives less room for her heart to operate.

"Add to that is her pregnancy, and not just having 1 child but 2 children," Bond said. "Knowing that if there's two babies inside in addition to the fluid around the heart, pushing on the heart, it's also very probable the babies in her belly were pushing on that lining as well, so that was adding extra pressure."

Medications worked, and the inflammation is down, she gave birth to her angelic twins at 33 weeks.

Now, they are happy, healthy and celebrating mom. But she's already received the best gift from her kids: they saved her life.

"I always think what would have happened if my small baby didn't have the cord problem that led to me being in the hospital to begin with," Maria said. "I would have been at home and probably died in my sleep."

Here are the symptoms to look out for, especially for those who have had a coronavirus infection before or during a pregnancy.

  • Discomfort in the chest that gets worse when taking deep breaths or leaning forward
  • Shortness of breath that doesn't improve
  • Fainting