Pregnant 32-year-old woman and her fetus die of COVID-19 at Jerusalem hospital

A 32-year-old woman died of COVID-19 and doctors were unable to save her 30-week fetus in an emergency C-section, a Jerusalem hospital announced Sunday.

The woman was healthy until she recently contracted coronavirus, and previously had four smooth pregnancies that ended with straightforward births, a spokeswoman for Hadassah Medical Center told The Times of Israel.

Hadassah did not release information on whether the fetus had carried the virus.

The news from Hadassah reverberated across the Israeli health system, with doctors warning that it illustrates the increased danger that the British variant, which now accounts for almost all Israeli COVID cases, on pregnancy women and fetuses.

Medical teams team wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospitall in Jerusalem on February 1, 2021(. Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

While concern related to the British strain lately focused on its transmissibility, not virulence, it is believed to impact pregnant women worse than the regular strain. Last month, as the British variant spread, Israel approved vaccines for pregnant women and started encouraging women to get the shots.

“This news raises a red flag regarding the dangers of COVID-19 to pregnant women,” Prof. Galia Grisaru-Soen, director of the pediatric infectious diseases department at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, told The Times of Israel.

The woman who died at Hadassah, a Jewish resident of the Jerusalem area, was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday due to respiratory distress, and started deteriorating rapidly on Saturday night. Doctors noticed damage to several of her organs, and a large team, including cardiology and gynecology experts, was assembled by her bedside.

According to a Hadassah statement, medics made “very prolonged” resuscitation attempts and performed an emergency caesarian section. But the mother died, and “despite tremendous efforts to save and save the fetus’ life in the preterm intensive care unit,” it did not survive.

Staff have been left in an “emotional storm,” and the hospital “shares in the heavy grief of the family,” the statement said.

Grisaru-Soen said: “The new variants, British and maybe South African. seem to be more dangerous to pregnant women, and we should encourage pregnant women, at least after the first trimester, to be vaccinated.”

On Tuesday, a stillborn fetus from a woman infected with the coronavirus in the city of Ashdod was found to be carrying the virus, having been infected via the placenta.

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