By Sheann Brandon
Monica Ramirez awoke alone and confused in an unfamiliar hospital room in late July.
“I felt like I had been hit by a train,” she recalled. “Someone opened the shades in my room, and I could see buildings and pavilions outside the window. It all seemed so familiar.”
Ramirez’s last memory was of driving to a hospital in Corona and being admitted on July 7. At the time, she didn’t know she had COVID-19; she only knew she couldn’t breathe. At 29 weeks pregnant, Ramirez was in critical condition as her body battled the virus and struggled to support the life of her baby. She was airlifted to Loma Linda University Health, placed in the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma, and intubated.
Ramirez for many years had joked with her family that they should drop her off at Loma Linda if she was ever sick, because Loma Linda University Health would come to her rescue. Ramirez and her family have had a special connection to Loma Linda University Health ever since her father received a liver transplant at the Medical Center. “I tell every person I can to go to Loma Linda University Health for care,” she said. “The most important thing is their faith in God, which motivates them to truly care about and help people.”
While she was in the coma, Ramirez’s water broke prematurely at only 30 weeks. Doctors delivered her tiny daughter, Emiliana, via C-section on July 13. She weighed three pounds and six ounces. Ramirez would remain comatose for more than a week after Emiliana was delivered. During that period, her body continued to battle the virus, and her heart stopped twice. She later recovered and was sent home to rest and continue her recovery.
On August 15, Ramirez was free of COVID-19 and strong enough to come visit the hospital and hold Emiliana in her arms for the first time.
Now, mother and baby at home, Ramirez says her family is complete. “I am so happy, blessed, and beyond grateful to be able to be home—both of us,” she said.
Ramirez still suffers from symptoms related to having had COVID-19, including breathing difficulty, throat pain, and some body numbness, but she said she’s thankful—for her life, her healthy baby, her family, and her story of hope and healing.