NJ woman leaves hospital after 108 days for H1N1

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Many people probably haven't thought about the H1N1 swine flu virus for weeks - maybe months.But one South Jersey mother has been fighting for her life ever since she got the virus in November. Today, after 108 days, she left the hospital.

"We were fearful we were going to lose her that night to be honest with you," says Brent Rector.

He and his wife got the call November first that their daughter Elise was in Cooper University Hospital. She had been taken by helicopter from Kennedy Hospital, after having difficulty breathing.

The Rectors learned then that Elise - number one, had the H1N1 virus. And,they learned that number two, she was pregnant.

"That was just a night we will never forget because she was in such severe condition," he recalls.

Thankfully, the baby was delivered at 36 weeks without problems.

But for Elise the battle was just beginning.

She had to be put on a breathing machine. She was half-paralyzed, and in an induced coma.

Dr. Philip Dellinger, director of Cooper's Intensive Care Unit, says, "I think this is as bad a case of lung failure as I have ever seen period."

Linda Rowan, R.N., one of the nurses in that unit, says, "It was day to day, there was times it was minute to minute where we thought 'oh, my god,' this is going the wrong way. And then, she would rebound."

After two-and-a-half months, Elise was finally able to breath on her own. And she finally had the chance to meet her baby girl, named Jayla.

"It was such an experience because we had prayed for that day to come," says her father.

"She is wonderful or as my daughter would say -" Brent says, as his daughter mouths the word "beautiful."

And now after a baby shower given by the staff, Elise is saying goodbye.

She'll be going to a rehabilitation center. Doctors say she is on the road to a full recovery.

"To see Elise well is just a miracle," says Rowan. The other ICU nurses gathered around her nod in agreement.

Elise, her family and boyfriend give thanks to all the staff at the hospital... Everyone from nurses, doctors, respiratory staff and cleaning staff.

Elise also wants to tell others to get the H1N1 vaccine, especially if they are pregnant.

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