A New Jersey mom died of COVID-19 after giving birth to her third child by emergency C-section. Tragically, Joanna Jimenez didn’t survive long enough to hold her baby boy before she died, ABC 7 reported.
Baby Ashton, born February 13, is little brother to 18-month-old Christian and 15-year-old Jordan. Jimenez also leaves behind her husband, Chad Augustus, and many devastated family members and friends.
Augustus spoke to NorthJersey.com about his wife’s illness and coming to terms with the tragedy. He explained that in the last week of January, the family went together to Target and Costco for household supplies. Jimenez began feeling ill a few days later, but she thought it was because she’d gone outside without a jacket the previous night.
However, when she didn’t get better, Augustus suggested that the family get tested for COVID-19. Jimenez’s test came back positive.
Her health quickly deteriorated. “You could see her whole mood change,” Augustus told the news outlet. “She didn’t have any energy. Her whole aura changed. I felt so bad.”
On February 4, Jimenez decided to go to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. It was the last time Augustus saw her in person.
Doctors told Jimenez that COVID-19 had damaged her lungs and she would need to have an emergency C-section to relieve her breathing. But even after Ashton was born, Jimenez still had breathing problems caused by low oxygen levels. She was eventually transferred to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania and put on a ventilator.
Before she was transferred, Augustus had a video call with his wife, holding Christian up so she could see him. “He saw her and was excited,” Augustus said. “It was like he was trying to speak to her. That was the last time we saw her. It was a happy moment so at least she was intubated with a happy thought.”
When she arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Jimenez was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a heart and lung bypass machine. Sadly, things didn’t improve and she died on February 21. She was 36.
Of his wife, he told Northjersey.com: “She was beautiful inside and out. I was blessed to have her by my side.”
He added, “As I’ll tell the children as they get older, their mom would want the best for them and to stay strong, Doing good in school, graduating, and moving forward in life to make the best of yourself would just make her proud. She would be smiling down and be happy.”
Jimenez’s best friend, Cynthia Sanchez, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for new living arrangements and 529 college savings plans for Jordan, Christian, and baby Ashton. Augustus said he felt uneasy asking for financial support, but the campaign has brought so much love from friends, family, and even strangers.
As for baby Ashton, he is “100% fine” and is being cared for by Jimenez’s mother. “That was basically Joanna’s gift to us,” said Augustus. “A mother should never have to bury their child, so Ashton is a piece of Joanna that she left behind. This is what’s keeping her going every day and somewhat relieving the pain.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women are at higher risk of developing respiratory complications requiring intensive care from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women, and they are more likely to be placed on a ventilator. Having COVID-19 has also been associated with an increased risk of preterm birth.