Healthy Baby Delivered After Expectant Mother and Child’s Lives Saved at Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital
By Space Coast Daily // June 14, 2023
COVID-19 became life-threatening for both mother and her unborn baby
The third time is NOT the charm (it’s a small MIRACLE) for Cape Canaveral mom and new baby. Three months after COVID-19 nearly took the lives of expectant mom and baby, they returned to Cape Canaveral Hospital for a triumphant delivery.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Although Brevard County’s April Bratcher had experienced COVID-19 twice in recent years with minimal issues, it was the third bout – while early in her third trimester of pregnancy – that became life-threatening for both April and her unborn baby.
About 27 weeks into her pregnancy, Bratcher, who is also a nursing student at Keiser University, recognized nearly too late that her symptoms were worsening at a rapid pace.
She was rushed to Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital, where she was stabilized and placed in the Intensive Care Unit.
Last week – 11 weeks after she and her baby’s lives were saved at Cape Canaveral – Bratcher delivered a healthy 6 lb. 6 oz. baby boy, William Harrison, Jr.
Both April and the baby’s father, William “Billy” Harrison, also were born at Cape Canaveral Hospital, forging a unique bond that will forever link them to the Space Coast’s community hospital.
“I was having the usual COVID symptoms, but I also started having bleeding issues, which was unusual. So, we went ahead and went to my sister, who took me to Cape to be evaluated after I spoke with Dr. [Sherri] Caplan, who wanted me to come in to get checked,” said Bratcher.
Shortly after arriving at Cape Canaveral Hospital, Bratcher’s situation quickly took a turn for the worse.
“The medical team was trying to get a line started on me. My vitals tanked. My oxygen levels dropped. My pulse was in the 20s. My blood pressure wasn’t reading – and then they called a rapid response. Suddenly, everyone rushed in.”
Bratcher was stabilized at Cape Canaveral Hospital and then transferred to a different facility specializing in high-risk pregnancy, where she spent another week being monitored.
“It was just a very strange moment, like, if Billy [who was away on a job site] didn’t push me to go to the hospital, or if my sister didn’t come pick me up, it might have gone differently – because I was just hoping it would just kind of go away,” said Bratcher.
“But everything dropped so fast. My O2 levels went down to 70. My pulse was like 30, and then 20, and my blood pressure wasn’t even pulling up on the machine for a while because it was so low,” she remembered.
“At one point, I think they were getting ready to open up the O.R. to have an emergency C-section, which would have been very dangerous for us. The whole thing was sort of an out-of-body experience.”
“Being in the healthcare field, I knew they were doing the best that they could to save me and my baby. But now I’m so thankful to have everybody here and that we’re able to take him home. Everybody’s been amazing. It’s one of the reasons I want to be a nurse – because of those people who took care of me.”
Health First Obstetrician Dr. Sherri Caplan said her patient reported some bleeding around weeks 24 and 25.
“But the bleeding was actually the least of her issues when she arrived – she became hypoxic with low blood flow, low blood oxygen, very low blood pressure and very slow heart rate. She actually passed out,” Dr. Caplan said.
“Fortunately, she was in our labor and delivery area of the emergency department where we were able to quickly identify her situation and pull on our full team and emergency resources. And here she is today with this beautiful baby – delivered at full term.”
Over the final few months of Bratcher’s pregnancy, she was monitored closely.
“April recovered quite well. And then we kept a really close eye on her for the rest of the pregnancy just to make sure that things were going well. But that little guy. He was so strong, he never dropped a beat the whole time.”
Although COVID-19 has seemingly become more a thing of the past and continues to garner less discussion or attention, Dr. Caplan explains that the virus can still be dangerous to high-risk individuals – including those who are pregnant, and awareness and closely monitoring symptoms is incredibly important. (Health First image)
“April had tested positive at home for COVID a couple days before she got to the hospital, likely part of the cause of her illness here. It’s really critical that pregnant patients report the positive testing to their Prenatal provider so that we can know to watch for potential concerns that may arise as the result of COVID, such as what happened in April’s pregnancy,” said Dr. Caplan.
“Most people are fine with COVID-19, but our immune systems are turned down a little bit during pregnancy. So things can quickly change. With pregnancy, you can get a little sicker – or a lot sicker.”