MANCHESTER, NH – After a two-month battle with COVID-19, Macenzee Keller, 20, from Manchester was able to meet her 2-month-old son, Zack, for the first time at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, on February 3, 2022.
Days after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and shortly before her due date, Keller was rushed to Catholic Medical Center where she was put on a ventilator and her baby was born via cesarean section on November 28, 2021. Unconscious and critically ill, Keller was transferred to DHMC before she was able to meet her baby.
“It’s a new experience, but I’m excited to become a mom,” Keller said after meeting her son for the first time. “He was big!”
Keller was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when she contracted the virus. She was planning to wait to get vaccinated until after she delivered, but after the ordeal she endured, she now wishes she had been, and wants to encourage others who haven’t been vaccinated yet to do so as soon as possible.
“Now I’m definitely getting vaccinated,” Keller said. “Definitely get vaccinated. Being as sick as I was, was definitely scary, and I don’t want anybody to have to go through that.”
At DHMC, Keller received life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a highly specialized blood oxygenation treatment used on seriously ill patients, for 47 days.
“She had a very extended course on the ECMO circuit, requiring a lot longer than we’ve seen in the past,” said nurse Ciaran Moloney, BSN, RN, a member of Keller’s care team. “There were times where we were wondering how or if she would be able to recover, but over the last few weeks, she’s made an amazing recovery.”
Keller’s recovery and reunion with Zack has provided much-needed positive news and inspiration for pandemic-weary DHMC providers and staff.
“In the medical (intensive care unit), we have a lot of difficult and often tragic stories, and so when we get one like this, where someone has made such an amazing recovery and gets to meet their child for the first time, it’s a real special one for us, and one that really makes it easier to come into work the next day,” Moloney said.
“Never give up hope,” said Brandi Milliner, Keller’s mother, who cared for baby Zack while her daughter was in the hospital. “Miracles happen every single day, and she’s ours.”
Keller is recuperating at a Concord rehabilitation center and is scheduled to be released later this week.