A pregnant mother getting an injection.
Diana Crouch not pictured.Crystal Cox/Insider
  • Diana Crouch is urging pregnant people to get vaccinated after surviving COVID-19 while pregnant.
  • Crouch was hospitalized for 139 days and put on life support. She had 3 strokes and a heart attack. 
  • Her baby, Cameron, was delivered at 31 weeks via C-section and named for the doctor. 

A Texas mom is encouraging pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after she survived the illness — and a heart attack and two strokes — while carrying her son. 

In all, Diana Crouch, 28, spent 139 days in the hospital, including several weeks on ECMO, a last-resort life-support machine that acts as an external heart and lungs for the body. She has no recollection of delivering her baby, who was born via C-section at 31 weeks. 

"After all I went through, the least of your worries should be the vaccine," she told the Texas Tribune. "I put my baby through all this as well."

Once at the hospital, Crouch's condition deteriorated 

Crouch started feeling off in summer 2021, but she chalked up the fatigue and headache to pregnancy. She was about 18 weeks along. 

Even Crouch's obstetrician assumed her symptoms were related to dehydration and morning sickness, but sent Crouch to the ER once she developed a low-grade fever, Today reported.  

The couple, who shared four kids prior to the pregnancy, weren't vaccinated against COVID-19. Crouch didn't worry about catching the virus since she'd already been infected. Plus, she told the Tribune, "I just didn't want to risk it. I was like, we have an immune system for this, and I don't want to do anything that might affect my baby."

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But at the hospital, Crouch was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia and transferred to Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, where she was put on a ventilator. A few weeks without improvement later, Chris agreed to put Crouch on ECMO — a rare and risky intervention during pregnancy, and one where survival is a "coin toss," Chris said. 

"I may go home without anything," he thought, according to the Tribune. "With a dead baby and a dead wife … there were some really dark days."

Crouch suffered a heart attack and three strokes 

On ECMO for weeks, Crouch improved. But then she suffered three strokes and a heart attack within a few days, and went into a coma.

"Being pregnant, having COVID, and being on ECMO are the three major risk factors for blood clots," Dr. Cameron Dezfulian, the director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease ICU at Texas Children's who treated Crouch, told the Tribune. 

At that point, Dezfulian and Chris prayed. "When a doctor is praying with you, you know there's not much else … we can do," Chris told the Tribune. 

But a few days later, Crouch turned a corner. Her lungs improved, she got off ECMO, she woke up, and was able to start moving around. But when she stopped improving at 31 weeks — likely due to the growing fetus's strain on her lungs — the team decided to deliver her baby, named Cameron for the doctor. 

After about a month in the NICU, Cameron went home. Crouch joined him several weeks later, just before Christmas 2021.

Both she and Chris are now vaccinated. "If you can eliminate what happened to me, if you can do damage control, why not do it?" Chris told the Tribune. "Why risk it like we did?"

COVID-19 is riskier than the vaccine in pregnancy 

While the numbers are ticking up, pregnant patients have been among the most resistant to vaccination. Some point to the absence of clinical trial data, concerns about putting something so new into their bodies, and anti-vaccine misinformation. Most didn't even know the shot was recommended by the CDC, one survey found

But experts say it's now clear that getting COVID-19 is a lot riskier than getting the vaccine in pregnancy. One large study found pregnant patients were more than five times as likely to be admitted to the ICU if they had COVID-19. They were also more than 14 times as likely to need intubation, and more than 15 times as likely to die. 

Among those who have been vaccinated while pregnant, meanwhile, scientists have seen no red flags or increased risk of complications. 

But a lot of patients don't fully trust that data until it's too late, Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an OB-GYN in Dallas, Texas, previously told Insider. By the time they get to the end stages of the disease progression, she said, "a lot of the time when they get to that point, they're like, 'Can I still get it?' and wish they had gotten it, and that's a hard conversation to have." 

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