- Title: Couple regrets not getting vaccinated after losing baby in battle with COVID-19
- Date: 24th July 2021
- Summary: SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS, UNITED STATES (JULY 23, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) TATE EZZI (EE-zeye), UNVACCINATED MAN WHO CONTRACTED COVID-19 ALONG WITH HIS WIFE, SAYING: "She was asleep for five weeks. I think total it was six or six and a half weeks that she was in the hospital."
- Embargoed: 7th August 2021 20:26
- Keywords: Arkansas COVID-19 ICU stillborn vaccination
- Location: LITTLE ROCK AND SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS, UNITED STATES / UNIDENTIFIED LOCATIONS
- City: LITTLE ROCK AND SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS, UNITED STATES / UNIDENTIFIED LOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Topics: Health/Medicine,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA004EN79OP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Tate Ezzi and his wife Christine were expecting their sixth child last May when Christine, a school teacher, became very sick with COVID-19.
Seeing her suffer with fever and vomiting, 44-year-old Ezzi took his wife to the hospital. She was admitted and released twice but kept getting worse.
"The congestion was just so thick and it was just so really bad. It was hard to see her. I was having to get up and help her, help her get up and go to the bathroom. There were a couple of nights of vomiting all night long which is when she really took a turn for the worse," he said.
The third time, Christine was admitted to the state's largest hospital, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, just over 10 miles (16 kilometers) from their home.
Days after she entered the COVID ward, Christine was put on a ventilator and eventually she was put on ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a device that pumps blood outside a patient's body to an artificial heart-lung machine so their own heart and lungs can heal.
"She was asleep for five weeks. I think total it was six or six and a half weeks that she was in the hospital," Ezzi said.
Ezzi said his wife, who was around 22 or 23 weeks along, lost the pregnancy.
"We lost the baby at some point, some point between when she was on the vent and on the ECMO machine, I'm not exactly sure," he said. "We just know the baby was stillborn. All we know is the oxygen just dropped too low at some point."
During that time, Tate started experiencing his own symptoms of COVID-19 and eventually he too ended up in the hospital where he said he spent eight or nine days, at least four of which were in intensive care.
He recalled one difficult conversation with the medical team when the urgency of the situation suddenly hit him.
"They actually came and talked to us at one point and asked us, 'if you are both on a vent, who do you want to make decisions for you?' And I was like, oh gosh! I've got to get better!" he said, thinking of their children, who were 5, 6, 8, 9 and 13 years old and were being cared for by relatives.
"I've got to get home. I've got to get better. And I told them, any kind of treatment you can give me, any kind, any experimental treatments, whatever. You've got to get me better. Because I already knew she wasn't doing very well at the time. I didn't know how bad it was."
At home, 4 of the 5 children tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, Ezzi said, the children had few symptoms and the relatives taking care of them had been vaccinated.
But Ezzi admits the emotional toll of his wife's hospitalization and the uncertainty of her condition was hard on him and their oldest daughter.
"I can just tell it was real hard on her, especially when mom wasn't doing well. It was really, really hard. And it was hard on me. I'll tell you what: I've never been through anything like that where somebody that you care about that much is going through such a hard time that they may not make it. That's pretty rough. And then when I couldn't visit, that made it even harder," he said, recalling how COVID-19 restrictions kept him from visiting Christine.
After spending most of May and June in the hospital, Christine was released to a rehabilitation center where she spent a week in physical therapy before coming home.
She is still weak but improving daily, he said.
Ezzi said he wasn't sure if his wife was infected by the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant, now the dominant strain across the globe, which has caused a surge in new infections and deaths, nearly exclusively among unvaccinated people.
Looking back, Ezzi said they regret not getting vaccinated. He said at the time they had thought because she was pregnant and he has a peanut allergy, they were better off not getting the vaccine. But he said they also felt they were unlikely to have a serious case of COVID-19.
"We just thought we were young and pretty healthy and if we did get it, it wouldn't be too bad," he said, before admitting, "It was (bad)."
Now, Ezzi says, he and his wife have decided to get vaccinated and are just waiting for Christine to get stronger before they do so.
"We've just been talking a lot about getting vaccinated and what we're going to do and when," he said. "Basically we're waiting for her to get the point where she's not feeling really bad to do it (get vaccinated)."
Ezzi said he now has a message for his fellow Arkansans about the vaccines.
"I want people to be able to make their own choice, of course, but I do want to just tell my story because if it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody," he said.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, only 36 percent of Arkansas residents are fully vaccinated.
There is so little demand for vaccines, that even in the midst of rising cases, UAMS announced it would permanently close its COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Friday (July 23).
With hospitals at capacity and intensive care beds scarce, UAMS CEO Stephen Mette said too many people have resisted vaccination and mask wearing before it was too late.
"There's considerable resistance to getting the vaccine in the public although I'm starting to see some softening of that resistance over the last weekend I have to say that all the patients who are hospitalized here, upon recovery, if they have not been vaccinated, tell us that indeed, they change their mind and would get vaccinated once they're discharged," Mette said.
(Production: Arlene Eiras)
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