PHOENIX - A Phoenix man whose girlfriend died after being infected with COVID-19 while she was pregnant is speaking out, even as he is grieving.
Michael Jerome is a new dad, as his girlfriend, 31-year-old Patricia Denise Jackson, delivered the baby two weeks before her death. Jerome now has a baby girl to raise, but the woman he wanted to share his life with is now gone.
Denise first started to feel sick late in August. She thought she had the flu.
"I've never seen somebody so sick before," said Jerome. "She, in her sleep, would breathe really crazy. She made a lot of noises in her sleep because she couldn't get enough oxygen."
Jerome said Denise's first COVID-19 test came back negative, but days later, she tested positive in the ER. She eventually underwent an emergency c-section. At the time, she was 36 weeks pregnant.
On Sept. 1, she gave birth to Kara, who then had be cared for in the newborn intensive care unit.
"So at first, they had her on breathing tubes. They had her intubated, and they had feeding tubes in her, so I called two, three times a day to check on her, see how she was doing, but she’s a little fighter," said Jerome.
Denise remained in the ICU. She was sedated and put on a ventilator, so she was not able to hold her baby girl. She passed away on Sept. 13.
Jerome said while he is vaccinated, she was not vaccinated during her pregnancy.
"Obviously looking back, I wish she had gotten vaccinated sooner," said Jerome.
CDC data shows as of Sept. 20, 159 pregnant women across the country have died from COVID-19. There have also been more than 123,000 total cases among pregnant women.
Directly impacted is little Kara, who is starting life without the woman who wanted nothing more than to be her mother.
"I tell her about her mother everyday and how much her mother loved her," said Jerome. "It's hard because I see her mother in her face when I look at her."
As for Kara, Jerome said she is now 19 days old, and doing great.
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