A Muslim mother from Newport, South Wales, has given birth to a baby girl while she was in a coma with COVID-19, waking up the second day after her baby was born.
29-week-pregnant Marriam Ahmad went into the Grange hospital in Cwmbran in January after testing positive for Covid.
The condition of the 27-year-old paralegal, who has asthma, went downhill quickly.
“All of a sudden, my oxygen mask was on a much higher setting – I couldn’t hear properly,” she told BBC.
“It was very loud. I had someone washing my face, looking after me. I was very weak.”
As the doctors feared that the baby might not survive, they decided to get it out with a c-section and put the mother on a ventilator.
“It just happened so quickly,” she said. “It was within about five minutes, they told me ‘you’re going on a ventilator, you’re having a c-section, the baby’s going to come out, you’ll be unconscious, you might not make it. Say goodbye’.”
Marriam’s baby was born on 18 January at 20:27 BST. Known as ‘Baby Ahmad’ for the first few days of her life, she weighed about 1.17kg (2.5lbs).
On the second day, the mother woke up.
“I had no idea what happened,” she said. “I woke up. Obviously I could see there was nothing in my stomach anymore and I was in a lot of pain.”
The mother decided to give the girl a very special name – Khadija.
“In the Islamic faith, Khadija is a very strong, independent woman,” said Marriam.
“From my point of view, my Khadija was very strong. She didn’t have issues, for someone being preterm at 29 weeks. They were telling me all the complications. She didn’t have any of those. It was a miracle.”
After eight weeks in hospital, Khadija is now home. At three-and-a-half months, she is happy, healthy and feeding well – now weighing nearly 4kg.
“I am just so grateful – that she’s still alive, that I am still alive,” said Marriam.
“Even though it was such a horrific, traumatic experience, I just found myself being even more grateful for the little things. Just spending time with family.
“Make the most of every opportunity and be grateful – that’s what I’ve taken from it.”
The largest non-Christian faith in Wales is Islam, with about 46,000 adherents in 2011.
Most Muslims live in Cardiff (23,656 in 2011, 6.8% of the population), but there are also significant numbers in Newport (6,859 in 2011) and Swansea (5,415 in 2011).