Waterloo woman shares story after battling COVID-19 while pregnant

Updated: May. 28, 2020 at 10:34 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - “I feel like I never had COVID, I feel good,"

Aquarius Bunch, 27, worked at a nursing home in Cedar Falls and started to feel ill in mid-April.

“I had a temperature, shortness of breath," Bunch said. “I was sweating like at night, I’d wake up with sweat all over my body.”

A test later revealed she had COVID-19. Her sickness progressively got worse.

“I woke up, I don’t know it might have been a week later, I woke up and I had a tube down my throat," Bunch explained.

Bunch was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics and put into the ICU, spending a week on a ventilator and ECMO, a machine that makes sure there was enough oxygen in the blood.

“It places a large catheter about the size of my thumb into an internal jugular vein in the neck, takes blood out of the body, adds oxygen into the blood and then returns the blood back to the body," explained Dr. Kevin Doerschug, who specializes in Pulmonary Critical Care.

“I still have the scar from that and I was just confused," Bunch said. "I didn’t know what was going on, I’d seen people with face shields on.”

According to Dr. Doerschug, anybody who requires being put on the ECMO machine has about a 50/50 chance of surviving. To make matters more complicated, Bunch was 23 weeks pregnant at the time. That, the coronavirus, and ECMO machine all put her at extreme risk for blood clots.

After more than two days in a being unresponsive, Bunch turned a corner towards recovery.

“We were able to wake her up, she was able to answer questions that I asked her, she was an amazing individual," Doerschug said.

With aggressive physical therapy, Bunch was able to stand up and walk, still with machines and tubes all over, but it was significant progress.

“I was in good hands and well taken care of," Bunch said.

On Mother’s Day, Bunch was ready to go home and reunite with her family, which still includes a healthy baby on the way.

“I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, I can’t thank them enough for saving my life and I’m so grateful to be here today to tell my story," Bunch said. "I got through it and God gave me a second chance, he wasn’t ready to take me right now.”

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