Mother Ellie and son Leo, inset, at Walsall Manor Hospital
Mother Ellie and son Leo, inset, at Walsall Manor Hospital

Ellie Wright, 20, from Beechdale in Walsall, couldn’t start life-saving treatment after contracting the virus until her baby had been delivered.

Leo was born by emergency caesarean, 10 weeks premature at 3.07pm on January 12 – and needed to be put on to a ventilator at Walsall Manor Hospital’s neonatal unit.

Meanwhile, Ellie was seriously ill in the hospital’s critical care unit fighting the virus and pneumonia at the same time.

Ellie’s mother and Leo’s grandmother, Michelle Stankevitch, said: “This has been terrible for us because Leo is Ellie’s first baby and my first grandchild – and it should be a happy time to celebrate.

“But we have been so worried about them both – especially Ellie because she has been so ill. She had to have Leo so that she could have treatment and she was on a cocktail of drugs and put to sleep for three weeks.”

At one point, Ellie’s condition took a turn for the worse and the family were concerned she would not make it.

Michelle added: “I was able to come and see her because things were so bad, but I refused to say goodbye to her and just kept saying “you need to fight”.

“I remember telling her I didn’t want to arrange a funeral for one of my own children.

“There was no way I could think of this being the end, because she needed to be here for the baby.”

Baby Leo

Baby Leo

But last week, baby Leo was brought up to the critical care unit in his incubator to meet his mother for the very first time. Ellie was still so weak she was unable to lift her arms, but she managed to reach out and hold her baby’s hand.

Now the family is hoping Ellie, who works in B&Q, can move on to a ward and out of critical care in the next couple of weeks.

She will be allowed home again once she is able to walk, and Michelle said she knows she will be craving one of her favourite pork curries.

Michelle, who is currently looking after Leo until his mother comes home, said: “Leo’s dad Christian had been seeing him because of the exceptional circumstances the unit also let me come and see Leo and I was there when they took him up to critical care.

“The nurses and doctors lined up as his incubator came through and I remember one of the doctors showing me his fingers crossed and I know he was smiling under the mask. It was really emotional for us all.

“When Ellie was little I used to sing You are My Sunshine using her name and I am doing the same now with Leo. He really looks at me when I sing it to him and I’m not sure whether he really likes it or just wonders what the heck his nan is playing at!

“I can’t wait till he’s reunited with his mum.”

Leo was taken to see his mother at the intensive care unit

Leo was taken to see his mother at the intensive care unit

Michelle praised the staff at the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for looking after both Ellie and Leo. She said: “They are not people – they are angels.

“They have looked after Leo and Ellie so well at such a bad time with Covid going on. In critical care they have done Ellie’s hair and painted her nails; those little touches mean a lot when you can’t be there.”

She has also set up a #TeamEllie tag on Facebook and said she hopes her daughter’s story would remind people how careful they still need to be to minimise the risk of coronavirus.

She added: “Our family has done everything by the rules and this has still happened to us. There are some who aren’t taking this seriously and they really need to.”

Critical care ward manager Rachael Brett said staff were proud to be part of Ellie’s special moment with Leo. She said: “To be able to see her son when she felt so weak did Ellie the world of good. The power of this can’t be underestimated.”

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