Kelsey Townsend was diagnosed with the novel virus when she was nine months pregnant last October, according to a news release from UW Health. Hospital officials said the woman was placed in a medically induced coma, during which doctors delivered her daughter, Lucy, in a C-section on Nov. 4.
While the newborn baby went home to the family, Townsend’s condition deteriorated rapidly and she required 75 days on a ventilator and another machine to support her lungs, per the release.
“Particularly early on, it was unclear whether we were going to be able to support her through it, and then ultimately, there was still a lot of uncertainty around what was the best way to get her safely out of the hospital and home,” Dr. Daniel McCarthy, UW Health cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the ECMO program, said in a video released by the hospital.
In December, doctors alerted the family that Townsend would need a double-lung transplant to survive. Her husband, Derek Townsend, told her the news on Christmas Eve.
“Telling her she’s that sick, she won’t come home without it…it was difficult,” said Derek Townsend, FOX6 Milwaukee reported. However, just days after Townsend’s name made it on the transplant list, she began a miraculous recovery that has left her doctors without an explanation.
“We don’t know precisely what allowed her lungs to start recovering after nearly two months of severe disease,” said Dr. Dan McCarthy, UW Health cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the ECMO program, per the outlet.
Townsend’s name was taken off the transplant list, and she was relocated out of the intensive care unit. Hospital officials said Townsend was released from University Hospital in Madison on Jan. 27, and she reunited at last with her husband and four children, including her now almost three-month-old, Lucy.
A video released by the hospital shows a medical worker wheeling Kelsey out of the hospital, where she was greeted by cheering staff. She had her hand over her heart, and embraced her husband in tears just outside the hospital entrance. At home, her son offered her a pint of her favorite ice cream.
“Her progress over the last couple of weeks has been quite miraculous and although we don’t know what exactly lies ahead, the possibility of complete or near-complete recovery, of return to a normal life is very real,” McCarthy said.