A hero NHS nurse who gave birth while fighting for her life against Covid-19 has finally met her new daughter after beating the disease.
Eva Gicain, 30, was so ill that surgeons carried out an emergency C-section when she was 35 weeks pregnant but she was left with no memory of the birth of her first child.
She had been rushed to Basildon University Hospital in Essex at the end of October after developing a severe case of Covid-19.
Baby Elleana was born IN EARLY NOVEMBER and immediately whisked off to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for three weeks.
Ten days after her daughter’s birth, Eva was so so sick that she was transferred from Basildon to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge 50 miles away for critical care.
She was hooked up to an artificial lung only used for the most seriously ill patients that helped oxygenate her blood.
But mother and daughter finally met properly for the first time on January 12 when Eva had recovered sufficiently to be discharged from Royal Papworth Hospital and allowed home.
Eva and her husband Limuel, 30, finally got to celebrate a family Christmas together with their baby daughter last week, on January 21.
Eva said: “I am feeling much better now.
“When I held Elleana for the first time I didn’t want to let go. It was a special moment.
“Life is unpredictable and we are now just looking forward to being a little family and spending time together.”
Eva has no memory of being moved to the Cambridge hospital, where she was put onto ECMO – extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
The machine takes over the job of the lungs by removing carbon dioxide from the blood and adding oxygen – allowing the lungs precious time to recover while Covid-19 treatment is applied.
Royal Papworth Hospital is one of five centres in England commissioned to provide ECMO for adults in acute respiratory failure.
The highly-specialised technique is being used to treat coronavirus patients as a last resort when other forms of ventilation have been unsuccessful.
And at 30 years old, Eva is one of the youngest patients to receive ECMO for COVID-19 at Royal Papworth Hospital.
She was supported by this ‘artificial lung’ for three weeks before being discharged from critical care and transferred to a step-down ward a few days before Christmas – which is where her memory of the experience begins.
Eva said: “The first thing I remember is just a few days before Christmas and being told where I was, what I had been through and that Elleana was doing well.
“I was able to regularly video call my husband, Limuel, and Elleana, and we spent a long time on the phone together on Christmas Day – although I couldn’t speak much as my throat was so sore from having been ventilated.
“Not being able to see them in person and touch them was so difficult. I was determined to get home to them as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, while his wife and newborn daughter were both fighting their own battles in different hospitals 50 miles apart, 30-year-old Limuel was unable to visit either of them.
This is because the new dad was also battling coronavirus from the family home/
He said: “I was very unwell so I couldn’t leave the house, never mind visit either my wife or daughter.
“It was so horrible the three of us being in separate places at a time when we should all have been together.
“I was finally able to visit Elleana just in time for her being discharged from NICU on November 21.”
But once dad and daughter were safely back home, Limuel, a palliative care healthcare assistant, admitted there was a new, if not slightly smaller, concern.
He said: “We knew we were having a girl and had discussed the name – but I didn’t know how Eva wanted to spell Elleana, which meant I couldn’t yet get her registered.
“Luckily, I found some personalised pyjamas that Eva had bought which were meant as a Christmas present, and so I managed to get the spelling from there.”
And Limuel added: “My manager at work has been so generous to give me time off throughout this whole period so I can be there for Eva and Elleana – I am so grateful for that.”
Eva was finally discharged from Royal Papworth Hospital on January 12 – accompanied by a round of applause from hospital staff – and finally got to go home and meet her daughter.
Two weeks on, she is making good progress – as is Elleana, who is now almost three months old.
The tot finally celebrated her first Christmas with her mum and dad last week, on January 21.