Angela Primachenko, a 27-year-old respiratory therapist from Vancouver, Washington, was keenly aware of the challenge ahead. Thirty-three weeks pregnant, she tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24 after having fever and other symptoms. Due to the nature of her work, she knew exactly what procedures may have to be undertaken to ensure her safety and the health of her unborn child.
Like many other victims of coronavirus, her symptoms started with a cough, followed by a fever that wouldn’t go away. Heavily pregnant, she hadn’t been reporting for work as a respiratory therapist at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.
Primachenko’s family encouraged her to get tested, and as she waited for the result, her condition continued to worsen. Two days later the test came back positive. She realized, “Being a respiratory therapist – just being a human, I guess – I knew I couldn’t keep breathing the way I was and survive. I’m like, I’m probably going to end up on a ventilator because I can’t breathe, I just can’t catch my breath.”
On March 26, Primachenko went into the ICU of Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, this time as a patient. After three days, she was put on the same ventilator machines that she worked on with doctors as a respiratory therapist. She recalled, “When you’re that sick, you’re just fighting for your life. My focus wasn’t on fear; it was just on getting through it.”
Eight days after testing positive for coronavirus, Primachenko was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma, which was decided on with the advice of her doctors. As she lay comatose, her medical team met for hours to decide on how to handle her care and pregnancy.
They recommended an induced labor to relieve her lungs and giver her body more nutrients. After husband David Primachenko gave his permission, a healthy baby girl, named Ava, was delivered on April 1.
Still in a coma, Primachenko weakened even more on April 5. Her twin sister Oksana Luiten remembered thinking, “We were actually scared we were going to lose our sister that day.” Luiten had been keeping friends and family informed of her sister’s harrowing ordeal, and continued to ask for prayers for a “miraculous healing.”
Fortunately, the therapist recovered the next day. When she woke up from the coma, her baby was five days old. She was extubated on April 6 and was soon well enough to leave the ICU.
Primachenko said, “That was emotionally unbelievable. It was just crazy to have to try to understand what happened the last 10 days, having to puzzle back together your life.” She added, “I feel like I’m a miracle walking.”
Her case was so astonishing that hospital workers paid tribute when she was removed from the intensive care unit. “Obviously nobody expected that I was going to get that sick, so no, absolutely not, I did not expect to deliver my child. After all the medication and everything I just woke up and all of a sudden I didn’t have my belly any more.
It was just extremely mind-blowing.” Primachenko added, “Everyone did a standing ovation and just clapped me out of the ICU, which is so amazing and such a huge thing to be able to leave the ICU and go to the floor — it’s just the grace of God.”
The therapist has since been released from the hospital but is still unable to hold her daughter. Ava remains in the neonatal intensive care unit, though she has tested negative for COVID-19. Primachenko checks on her miracle daughter through FaceTime and will need two straight negative COVID-19 tests before she is allowed to visit.
Husband David and 11-month-old daughter Emily have been caring for Ava, since both have tested negative for COVID-19. The family is unsure how Primachenko may have contracted the virus.
Washington is among the states with the highest rates of coronavirus cases. Primachenko hopes that her story will send a positive message to others, particularly expectant mothers with heightened fears during this pandemic.
She wants to stress “That there’s hope. That even in the hardest days and the hardest times that there’s hope and you can rely on God and people and community. The amount of community and people that were praying for me is just unbelievable. I was blown away, and I’m so incredibly thankful.”
After everything they have endured, finally on April 16, Primachenko was able to have Ava in her protective arms. Below was her most recent Instagram photo sharing the priceless and inspiring moment to her well-wishers.
“Crying right now!!! IM COVA FREE!!! And holding my baby girl in my hands!” sharing her excitement on Instagram.
Life has taken on new meaning, which is particularly significant given the current situation and the name they bestowed on their daughter. “It means ‘breath of life. So she’s our new little breath of life. Primachenko stated, “I believe because of the community and the people and everyone that believed in me, God just did a miracle to have me and my baby be healthy through this.”
Here’s video of clip of Angela whose recovery is being celebrated by hospital staff:
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