BOISE, Idaho — By the time she went into labor earlier this month at St. Luke's, Kimberly Rangel of Meridian had been in a medical coma for weeks as she battled COVID-19.
This would be her third child, a boy she planned to name Anthony.
But the baby did not survive, family members say, something the expectant mother did not find out until her condition improved just enough that medical staff could bring her back to consciousness.
Learning of baby Anthony's death came as a blow, Kimberly's sister Anne Rangel said.
"When she found out the baby did not make it, she had severe anxiety and heavy breathing," Anne told KTVB. "The doctors put her back in the induced coma.”
Kimberly remains in the hospital, hooked up to a ventilator. Her two older children are staying with family members.
Her sister described a chaotic scene inside the halls of the St. Luke's intensive care unit. Idaho has instituted crisis standards of care for hospitals statewide, signaling that medical facilities have become overwhelmed by the surge of sick and dying COVID-19 patients.
“The hospital is packed. Every room was full in the department my sister was in," Anne said. "Every time I would visit, new patients would come seeking emergency help. It’s ugly and it’s hard on the medical workers.”
The family said they want to share their loss in hopes that Kimberly's heartbreak will convince other pregnant women to protect themselves from the virus. Kimberly was not vaccinated, Anne said, because she was worried about the effects the shot would have on her unborn child.
But the CDC is vehemently urging all pregnant and breastfeeding women to get vaccinated, warning that pregnant women have an increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications if they do become infected with COVID-19. The vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage and has not been linked to any harm to a developing fetus, doctors say.
"The virus is real," Anne said. "Don’t wait for a severe case to reach your families. Take precaution now, by using masks and getting vaccinated. I believe this will help stop the spread.”
Kimberly's family has set up a fund to help pay for medical expenses, necessities for her surviving children, and a funeral for her newborn.
At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.
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