A much-needed good news story has emerged from the pandemic as it’s been reported that a doctor and mother-to-be who had to be put into a coma due to complications from Covid-19 awoke a month later to be greeted by her newborn twins. Doctor Perpetual Uke, a rheumatology consultant at Birmingham City Hospital, was only six months into her pregnancy when she noticed symptoms of the disease, and the decision was made by doctors to place her onto a ventilator at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to support her body through the worst of the illness. Understandably, Dr Uke suspected the worst when she was revived a month later to find her bump was gone, but instead learned that her twins had been delivered while she was unconscious.
As Covid-19 attacks the lungs and causes hypoxia, for some patients the best option is to induce a coma so that their breathing can be assisted by a machine to get them through the worst of the illness. For Dr Uke, an induced coma was decided to be the safest option and it was arranged for her to be put under for a month. During this time, however. her team of physicians recognized that it was time to try and get the babies out for both the sake of the twins and Dr Uke. While still in an induced coma, Uke delivered both babies prematurely by cesarean section on April 10, welcoming to the world Palmer and Pascal weighing just 770 grams and 850 grams (1.7 pounds and 1.9 pounds) respectively having been born at 26 weeks old.
However, Palmer and Pascal had to wait a little longer to say hello to their mother and were cared for in the intensive care unit. When Dr Uke finally regained consciousness, she feared that she had lost the babies but was able to visit them in the ICU while their bodies caught up with their premature entrance to the world. "They were so tiny they didn't look like my older kids, I couldn't touch them, I felt so emotional," said Dr Uke to Sky News. “Sometimes I look at them in tears, I never knew they would make it. It is amazing what medical professional science can offer.”
Human pregnancy is usually expected to last around 40 weeks, and babies born before 37 weeks are considered preterm. Advances in neonatal science mean that premature babies can be supported outside of the womb while their bodies catch up, as without completing the full gestational period they can enter the world with underdeveloped lungs and other organs. Thankfully for Dr Uke and her family, the team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital were able to support both mother and babies and deliver a happy ending.