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On a September day, doctor Hoang Le Minh Hien brought a box containing cards with pictures of newborns to give to Covid-19 infected mothers.

Staying on life support, Tran Thi Thu Trang sat up, oxygen mask in one hand, card in the other, and stared lovingly at the picture of her son peacefully sleeping. The baby was born on August 25 and since then the mother had not been able to hold her baby in her arms. On the left corner of the card were some encouraging words from hospital director Dr. Hoang Thi Diem Tuyet: "You were very brave and strong bearing a child in this tough times. We wish you the strength to continue being brave and heal, to fight for your health and your child, so that you two can see each other again.” 

After receiving the card, the mother’s eyes lit up, like she was not feeling the pain anymore. In the following days, her condition started to improve drastically. The doctors then decided to transfer her out of Sector K1 to Field Hospital No. 16 to continue monitoring her health. 

On the next bed, mother Phan Thi Diem Thuy was able to breathe without having to rely on a ventilator. She hadn’t got the chance to see her son after his birth on August 24. She shed tears after receiving the card from Dr. Hien. "After giving birth we have had to stay apart. Today I finally get to see him. Thank you so much!’ she told Dr. Hien.

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According to Dr. Hien, when a mother is diagnosed with Covid-19 after giving birth, they will have to be moved to Sector K1 and are not allowed to see their friends or family. Realizing how hard it could get for their patients, the hospital decided to take pictures of their newborns and make cards as gifts to help them cope with loneliness and battle sickness.

"There were cases where the mother healed with an astonishing pace and we were very surprised. We wonder if it could have been love that helped them make it through such hardship," Dr. Hien told VietNamNet.

In early September, Nguyen Thi Tuong Vy (born 1985) tested positive with Covid-19 while pregnant with her first child and was immediately transferred to Sector K1. In the following day her condition worsened and quickly became critical. On September 5, the doctors had to perform a C-section surgery to save the mother.

"When we received her, she was in too much pain and gave the wrong family phone number. That made contacting her family that much more challenging," doctor Hien said.

The doctors then had to browse through her pregnancy records to find her address. Before the surgery, they had to ask for support from the police to find her husband’s contact number to inform him about the situation.

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The baby was born premature and had to be placed in special care nursery. After the surgery, the mother’s blood oxygen level dropped. She even had blood coagulation and her heart stopped twice. “Her condition was so bad that no hospital could afford to take her in. Luckily there was Cho Ray Hospital that had a vacant bed," said Dr. Hien.

While finishing the paperwork to transfer her to the new hospital, the doctors quickly made a card with a picture of her son and left it at the side of her bed.

Dr. Hien started working at Hung Vuong Hospital in 2004. In her 17 years of service, she has been witness to new life and the smiles that come after. Over the last two months, seeing the death of many mothers as a result of Covid-19, has caused her and her colleague’s insufferable pain. However, everyone had to hold their feelings in order to continue working.

By September 8, 150 pictures of newborn babies had been taken. Most of them were sent to the mothers. However, some mothers never had the chance to look at their children.

"Although the pictures never got to the hands of those unfortunate mothers, we still keep them as memories of the days the children were born," doctor Hien said. The hospital has seen three orphaned babies whose mothers died after they were born.

Dr. Hien showed us a baby lying in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)." He was born prematurely, weighed 900g, his mother died right after giving birth. For the past few days, his life has been relying entirely on this NICU," she said. The mother was infected at her home. She was already in critical condition when the hospital took her in. The doctors immediately performed C-section surgery to try to save both of them. Unfortunately, the mother passed right after the surgery.

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The father was home alone when the hospital called. He couldn’t say a word. Now he can’t take his wife’s ashes, his son’s life still relying on machines. He calls the hospital every day begging to take his son home. "Now that the baby’s health is not in stable condition, we have to keep him here for close monitoring. All I can do now is wish him good luck so he can reunite with his father," said Dr. Hien.

Another mother was also infected at her home. When she came to the hospital, her health was in good condition. However, after birth, she had trouble breathing, her blood oxygen level drastically dropped. After emergency surgery, she started to regain consciousness. In the morning, the doctors gave her a card. Seeing her child, she was very happy, her eyes teeming with happiness. That evening, her condition worsened quickly and she passed. The picture of her baby was still at the side of her bed.

As of September 9, Sector K1 of Hung Vuong Hospital had received 1,241 female Covid-19 patients, 500 of which were pregnant. Currently the hospital is treating 180 female patients, five of which are on life support. There are 252 patients who have recovered, 752 are recovering and have been transferred to lower-level Covid-19 treatment sectors. There are 57 serious cases and 10 have died, five of whom were pregnant women.

Tu Anh – Thanh Phuong

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