Pregnant Nurse Dies at 28 from Coronavirus, Doctors Save Her Baby in Emergency C-Section: 'Irreplaceable'
A hospital spokesperson confirmed that the baby is "doing very well"
A pregnant nurse in the U.K. has died from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but her baby survived after being delivered via an emergency C-section.
Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong was a nurse at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital in Luton, England, which is about 35 miles north of London.
Agyapong, 28, tested positive for COVID-19 on April 5, and was hospitalized two days later, according to the NHS. It was not clear if Agyapong was positive for the virus while still going into work, which she had been doing as recently as March 12, The Guardian reported Wednesday.
She had not been treating COVID-19 patients, the outlet reported. It is unclear where she was exposed to the virus and whether or not Agyapong had any underlying conditions that would put her at a higher risk for the virus.
“It is with great sadness that I can confirm the death of one of our nurses, Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, who passed away on Sunday (12th April),” said David Carter, the CEO of the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement Wednesday.
“Mary worked here for five years and was a highly valued and loved member of our team, a fantastic nurse and a great example of what we stand for in this Trust,” he continued. “She tested positive for Covid-19 after being tested on 5th of April and was admitted to the hospital on the 7th April. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Mary’s family and friends at this sad time. We ask that the family’s privacy is respected at this time.”
The hospital did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Before she died, Agyapong delivered a baby girl, who was named Mary after her mother, a GoFundMe campaign set up in the nurse’s honor said.
“Mary was a blessing to everyone she came across and her love, care and sincerity will be irreplaceable,” the organizers of the campaign — which has raised £17,632 as of Wednesday — wrote. “You will forever be in our hearts Mary. Your memories are still with us and we will cherish them forever until we meet again.”
A hospital spokeswoman told the BBC that Agyapong’s “child was doing very well.”
It is not clear if the baby had also contracted COVID-19, and the nurse’s husband is reportedly self-isolating at this time, according to The Guardian.
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While there have been no widespread studies to determine whether pregnant women are at a greater risk of contracting the virus or whether infected mothers pass it down to their babies, early anecdotal evidence shows pregnant women do not become more seriously ill than the rest of the population, and that mom-to-baby transmission is unlikely.
Still, pregnant women are considered a higher-risk population because of weakened immune systems and should be extra vigilant about hand washing and practicing social distancing, say health officials. “It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in an advisory notice. “Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.”
The virus does not seem to be making them seriously ill, however. Research shared on PubMed in March examined the severity of COVID-19 in cases reported in pregnant women. In a study of 16 pregnant women with lab-confirmed infection and 25 pregnant women with clinically diagnosed infection, all of the pregnant women had only mild illness. None were admitted to ICU.
The study also found no evidence of mother-to-baby transmission.
As of Wednesday, there are at least 93,873 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.K., with 12,107 deaths related to the contagious respiratory virus. There are more than 2 million cases worldwide.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.