Pregnant Israeli, 32, Dies of COVID Together With Her Fetus

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem
Hadassah University Hospital, Ein KaremCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

A 32-year-old Israeli who was 30 weeks pregnant died on Sunday morning at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, after having contracted COVID. 

Despite tremendous efforts made by a multidisciplinary team of senior specialists, which included prolonged resuscitation efforts and even a caesarean section, doctors were unable to save the mother and her fetus, the hospital said. The woman was a mother of four.

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The woman from Jerusalem was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit last Tuesday in critical condition, on account of respiratory distress. On Saturday night, her medical condition rapidly deteriorated to the point of multi-system failure.

Last week, a fetus that contracted COVID-19 in the womb of a 29-year-old woman died at Assuta Medical Center in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, in what is considered the first such case in Israel and one of only a few reported in the world, with doctors attributing the cause of death to the virus with a high degree of probability. The doctors believe that it is likely that the fetus contracted the virus through the umbilical cord.  

In October, a 23-year-old woman died of COVID a month after giving birth to a healthy baby by way of an emergency C-section. She had contracted the virus after she was hospitalized during the ninth month of her high-risk pregnancy, and the C-section was performed after her condition had deteriorated.

On February 1, the Health Ministry revised its position regarding the vaccination of pregnant women, and now recommends that women at every stage of pregnancy get vaccinated. Previously, the ministry recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated only in the second trimester of their pregnancy or later, unless otherwise in an at-risk group for severe coronavirus infection.

In late January, following a rise in the number of pregnant women hospitalized due to the virus, Israel’s Health Ministry and council for gynecological health began to recommend the coronavirus vaccine for pregnant women and women needing or undergoing fertility treatment, particularly those at high risk exposure or suffering underlying conditions. The recommendation was made despite the fact that neither pregnant nor breastfeeding women were included in Pfizer’s clinical trials due to concern for the lives of the women and their fetuses.

“The illness caused by the coronavirus is liable to cause harm during pregnancy ... and lead to early delivery, so it is important to immunize,” read a position paper published by the council with the cooperation of Israel’s fertility research association. “In light of reports about women and young couples avoiding the vaccine for fear of it damaging fertility, it is important to stress that there are neither facts nor a scientific basis pointing to damage to fertility as a result of any of the recognized vaccines.”

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