She was diagnosed with coronavirus and had to deliver her baby 14 weeks early while in a coma

Johana Mendoza Chancay was hospitalized for coronavirus while pregnant. She describes the emotional experience of being placed in a coma as doctors tried to save her and her baby.

Posted: Apr 22, 2020 10:41 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2020 10:41 PM

Johana Mendoza Chancay hasn't been in the same room with her baby since she delivered in a medically induced coma.

Chancay shared the story of her daughter Zion's birth during the coronavirus pandemic with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "Cuomo Prime Time." Now, recovering from the virus, a traumatic labor and the emotions of separation from her premature infant, she says there are no words for the experience.

Diagnosed late last month with coronavirus, Chancay said she wasn't initially worried. At the time, she didn't believe the virus was affecting pregnant women as much, she said, and thought she would face flu-like symptoms. She decided to ride it out in self-quarantine.

But then she began having respiratory issues.

"That's when I just couldn't take it anymore," Chancay told CNN.

Almost immediately after arriving at a Connecticut hospital, she was told she would have to be put into a coma and have an emergency C-section to deliver her baby early, she said.

"It was told to me right away and that's when I called my family and told them 'hey, I'm going under,'" she said. "And that's the last time they heard from me."

When she woke up, it was April 1 and she had a one-pound baby named Zion, born 14 weeks early.

But instead of holding her in her arms, Chancay met her daughter for the first time from a webcam. Both she and the baby are fragile, she said, so while she is recovering at home, Zion is still at the hospital.

They will likely not be reunited until July 8, Zion's due date.

Recovering from coronavirus and an emergency C-section, Chancay is now undergoing a long recovery that includes physical therapy.

Meanwhile, Chancay said she is "trying to understand: I am a mom, she's just not here."

Last week, another mother and daughter got that long-awaited reunion Chancay and Zion are waiting for.

Angela Primachenko, who lives in Vancouver, Washington, held her baby last Wednesday for the first time after delivering in a medically induced coma as well. When she woke up, her baby was already five days old.

"Crying right now," she posted on Instagram. "Our little sunshine is doing amazing!"

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Johana Mendoza Chancay's baby was born premature, at 26 weeks.

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