A first-time mother is fighting for her life to finally get the chance to hold her baby.
Victoria Valdez was forced into an emergency C-section about two weeks ago after doctors at UnityPoint Trinity Hospital in Bettendorf discovered she had COVID-19 and pneumonia in both of her lungs.
She gave birth to her first child, Isaac, four weeks early. Immediately afterward, though, doctors determined she needed to be put on a ventilator. She has spent the last two weeks going on and off the ventilator in UnityPoint’s intensive care unit (ICU.)
“It’s like a roller coaster, there would be signs she’s improving and you’re getting hope,” said Valdez’s mother, Amy LaJoie.
However, the ups and downs stopped this past Monday when Valdez’s condition got worse. Doctors said she needed to be put on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a form of respiratory life support where blood is pumped out of a patient’s body and oxygenated. But according to LaJoie, doctors at UnityPoint told her that their hospital, along with all other hospitals in the Quad Cities, did not have an ECMO machine.
“He said that they have done everything that they could do [and] that if she crashes again, she needs more advanced care,” LaJoie said, reciting what UnityPoint doctors told her.
At that moment, it became a race to find a hospital that had an ECMO machine, along with an available ICU bed for Valdez. LaJoie says she and the doctors at UnityPoint made phone calls to hospitals across the states of Illinois and Iowa.
“They called every local hospital … Rockford, Iowa City, Springfield,” LaJoie said.
LaJoie finally found a hospital with an ECMO machine and an available ICU bed at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. On Tuesday night, Valdez was airlifted to that hospital.
“As soon as that bed became available, they airlifted her,” LaJoie said.
Now, Valdez is on the ECMO machine fighting for her life in Chicago. While Valdez is in the hospital, LaJoie and the rest of her family are taking care of her new baby, Isaac.
“My daughter [Erin] who has a very good job has to take family leave in order to take care of Isaac,” LaJoie said.
As they care for the new baby, they continue to bite at their nails over Valdez’s condition, especially since she wouldn’t be the first family member they’ve lost to COVID-19.
“I have lost a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, a nephew, and I am not losing another to COVID,” LaJoie said. “I don’t care how many people I had to have on the phone calling every single hospital, I am not going to lose another family member to this God-awful disease.”
However, the family is keeping a positive outlook, and believe Valdez will come out of this OK.
“It’s Thanksgiving, so let’s give thanks they [Valdez] are still with us,” LaJoie said.
Local 4 News and www.ourquadcities.com will continue to provide updates on Valdez’s condition.