Nurse dies of coronavirus days after giving birth – and never got to cuddle baby
At 35 weeks pregnant, Mary Agyapong longed to hold her baby – but that moment never came.
After being rushed to hospital with Covid-19, Mary’s baby was born by C-section. She could not hold her in case she passed on the virus.
Mary, a nurse, died five days later without ever cuddling her daughter, who was named after her tragic mum.
Today husband Ernest Boateng, 30, tells how the couple’s three-year-old son heartbreakingly asks when he can go to heaven to see his mummy.
Ernest is pleading with the Government to shield every pregnant nurse if there is a second wave of Covid-19.
In his first newspaper interview, Ernest said: “That Mary never got to hold her daughter is almost too painful to talk about.
“I wasn’t allowed to be at the birth… the nurses took our baby away to another ward straight away, but sent photographs and videos to Mary.
“She was delighted to have a daughter and I couldn’t wait to get them both home.”
Ernest, who is training to be a human rights lawyer, now faces bringing up five-month-old Mary and big brother AJ alone.
He said: “I’m all they’ve got so I have to be strong for them but behind closed doors I get very emotional.
“Since AJ started nursery, he can express himself more and asks lots of questions about where Mummy is.
“I tell him she’s… in heaven and he asks when he will go to heaven to see her. Moments like that are really hard.”
Ward sister Mary died at Luton and Dunstable Univsersity Hospital, where she worked, on April 12, after first falling ill with Covid-19 in mid-March.
It was a second blow to the family, who lost Mary’s father Stephen Agyapong to coronavirus just a week beforehand.
A pre-inquest review this week heard Mary, 28, had been admitted to hospital suffering from shortness of breath on April 5 but was discharged, only to be readmitted two days later when Ernest called an ambulance for her.
Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner’s Court heard Ernest had concerns about the decision to discharge his wife, and about his wife’s conditions at work.
Ernest says the cause of death was recorded as pneumonia, with coronavirus and the C-section contributing factors. The hospital said it did not have any Covid patients before Mary went on maternity leave. The inquest hearing was adjourned.
Ernest, a deeply dignified man who gives away little of his inner grief, hopes sharing Mary’s tragic story will change the way pregnant NHS staff are treated during any second wave.
He said: “Every pregnant woman is carrying a life and they should be prioritised above everyone else.
“Mary was really worried about the virus. After every shift she came home and changed her clothes because she didn’t want to put us at risk.
“I wouldn’t say I was lucky, but I am fortunate that my daughter is still here. I don’t want anyone else to go through the nightmare I have.”
He added: “When I picture her now I see her smiles and the little things like singing around the house.”
Suzanne White, who represents Ernest as head of clinical negligence at legal firm Leigh Day, said: “May was a young professional woman who has left behind two very young children and her husband.
“The inquest will look at the cause of death in such tragic circumstances.”
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