Former MERS patient delivers baby

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Former MERS patient delivers baby

A pregnant woman who tested positive for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) earlier this month delivered a healthy baby boy on Tuesday morning by Caesarean section.

The 39-year-old was first exposed to the virus and later infected when she visited her mother, who was hospitalized in the emergency room at Samsung Medical Center, on May 27 and 28, the same time Patient No. 14 - known as a “super-spreader” - was treated there.

At the time of the birth, the mother-to-be was being hospitalized in the general hospital’s obstetrics ward.

The case was unprecedented for medical workers, who had to pay special attention to the mother and child.

According to the hospital, the woman was fully recovered by the time of the birth.

“Patient No. 109, a pregnant patient, was declared fully recovered [before the birth], testing negative on Friday and Sunday,” Kwon Deok-cheol, the general director of the central MERS countermeasure headquarters, said in Tuesday’s briefing. “She moved to the obstetrics ward on Monday and delivered the baby by Caesarean section at 4:34 a.m.”

According to Samsung Medical Center, the patient was in her 37th week of pregnancy, in the normal range for delivery.

However, “While she was preparing for a normal delivery, she experienced placental abruption,” Samsung Medical Center said. “For cases of placental abruptions in the last month of pregnancy, an immediate C-section is recommended, and she successfully delivered the baby accordingly.”

Placental abruption is a complication during pregnancy in which the placental lining that connects the mother and baby separates from the uterine wall before delivery.

The hospital added that MERS was not believed to have caused the complication.

The case here has drawn considerable attention due to the fact that most pregnant MERS cases in foreign countries have not ended well and because the mother could not take the antibiotics prescribed to other patients due to her pregnancy.

“According to the World Health Organization, most of the women [with MERS infections] who were less than five months’ pregnant gave birth to stillborn babies,” said Professor Lee Jae-gab of Hallym University Medical Center, a member of the countermeasure headquarters.

“Fortunately, the patient’s labor began after she was declared fully recovered from MERS, and it is the first case in which the mother and child are both fine despite the disease.”

Samsung Medical Center said the baby was tested for MERS immediately after he was delivered. The results came back negative at 1:30 p.m.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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