Sarah Marechaux used the joyous occasion to encourage expectant mothers to get their COVID-19 vaccinations to protect themselves and their babies.
Sarah almost died last October after giving birth to her baby daughter Olivia via emergency C-section on October 23, 2021, at the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.
The Fintona-woman had received her first COVID-19 jab prior to giving birth but still became seriously ill after catching COVID-19.
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She said: “I like many other pregnant women was anxious about getting the vaccine and had many concerns. I know there is a lot of mix messages and scaremongering stories about the vaccine but I want to appeal to expectant mothers to please speak to their consultant or midwife who will be happy to answer any questions.
"I owe my life and that of my daughter, Olivia to Dr. Andrew Craven, Speciality Doctor who was able to allay my fears and encouraged me to get jabbed.
"Myself and my partner [Josh] are extremely grateful for the compassion and care provided to me by all the staff at the South West Acute Hospital and in particular Dr. Craven, Sr. Valerie Topping and ICU Staff. We have been through a rollercoaster of emotions and no words can express our gratitude to the wonderful staff in the hospital.
“A massive thank you to my Doctors, ICU nurses, Ward 8 staff, Physios, OTs, porters and cleaners – they were all part of my journey in the South West Acute Hospital. There wasn’t a day where someone from any of those departments came to my room and wished me well or where praying for me. Josh and I appreciate everything you have all done for us.
“When I was seriously ill I was unaware of what was going on around me, however, the staff created a memory book and each of them wrote messages of what was happening that day, who was with me, who held my hand, washed me, brushed my hair etc.
"The midwives also wrote about how my daughter was getting on – as they knew I was missing out on important milestones. I will treasure this book for ever and read this to Olivia when she is old enough to understand.”
Brenda McCabe, Midwifery Lead for South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, said: “Unfortunately Sarah was seriously ill during her pregnancy having contracted COVID-19 and after giving birth and was treated in the COVID Ward 8 and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at South West Acute Hospital for 11 weeks.
"Her condition deteriorated on a number of occasions throughout this time and she was given the last rites twice. It is a miracle that Sarah has survived and this is testament to the dedication and care of the nursing and medical teams and of course to Sarah and her partner Josh that she was finally discharged home in January 2022.
“It is safe to get your COVID-19 vaccination during any stage of your pregnancy and I would encourage expectant mothers to speak to their consultant, midwife, GP or any healthcare professional for more advice if they have any questions or concerns.”
Sister Valerie Topping, COVID-19 Ward 8 at South West Acute Hospital said: “Sarah’s experience of COVID-19 is a remarkable and emotional journey and she will never be forgotten by the nursing staff on the COVID Ward who cared for her, or by the ICU nursing staff, who all took her into their hearts.
"As a consequence of COVID, Sarah’s condition deteriorated rapidly in hospital on three occasions following the birth of her baby, each time requiring a rapid emergency response by staff, followed by admission to Intensive Care, where she was critically ill on each of these occasions.
"This had a heart-wrenching effect on all staff caring for her, knowing Sarah was a new mother, separated from her new born daughter and not knowing what the outcome for her and her husband Josh would be.
"However, despite this very traumatic experience, Sarah and Josh, supported by Sarah’s mother, Lorraine, have shown exceptional resilience and determination. Sarah showed great courage throughout her remarkable recovery, fuelled by her desire to be reunited with her baby, Olivia and her older children.
"We did manage to arrange for Sarah to go home on Christmas morning and with the support of nursing staff she was able to enjoy Christmas with her beautiful family, which was incredibly important for Sarah’s overall health and well-being.
"Whilst she continues in her recovery, my staff gained immense satisfaction, delight and hope during this challenging time in supporting Sarah until she was finally able to be discharged home, in early January 2022."
A special Mother's Day celebration took place in Enniskillen to mark her family's incredibly journey.
Said Valerie: "We would like to wish Sarah well in her on-going recovery and she will always have a special place in all our hearts. Unfortunately Lorraine could not be with us today but we wish to extend a very Happy Mother’s Day to Sarah and Lorraine and we hope you both have a very special day on Sunday.”
Brenda concluded: “Thank you again to Sarah for allowing us to share your amazing story of recovery from COVID-19. This has certainly given a much needed morale boost for our health care staff at this difficult time and we wish you, your partner and your beautiful daughter every happiness in the future. Take care.”