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24-Year-Old New Mom On Ventilator With COVID-19

MURRAY, Utah — A new mother with COVID-19 remained on a ventilator at Intermountain Medical Center Thursday as her husband cautioned everyone to follow recommended precautions.

“Whether or not you believe that masks work, whether or not you believe we even have a pandemic at the moment, please just respect other people — respect their freedom to not get sick,” said the husband, Benjamin Jenson of Boise, Idaho.

He said his wife, 24-year-old Jessi Jenson, tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 26 — four days prior to the birth of baby Gwendolyn.

On Sunday, Jenson was discharged from the hospital with her newborn, only to return to the emergency room Monday with worsening COVID-19 symptoms and deteriorating health.

“Her oxygen saturation was at 25%,” her husband said. “They immediately intubated her and got her on a ventilator.”

Benjamin Jenson said though the ventilator was essentially “maxed out,” doctors told him his wife’s lungs remained stressed. At that point, he said they decided an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine would be in her best interest.

“They recommended a procedure to install a tube into her arteries to allow a machine to manually oxygenate her blood,” Jenson said. “Once they got her on that, her oxygen levels were back to around 100, but they wanted to send her somewhere where they were more experienced with this kind of equipment, this kind of procedure, so she (was flown) down to Salt Lake from Boise and she arrived at Intermountain Medical Center around 4 a.m. on Wednesday.”

Jenson said on Tuesday he had been contemplating the possibility that his wife might actually die.

“Initially I was really, really scared,” Jenson said. “I had an older brother who had to be on a ventilator for the last several months of his life, and so he ended up passing away and it was very scary for me to see my wife going on the same thing. I understand that the machines are safe, but it brought back some scary memories for me.”

It was only on Thursday that Jenson once again began to feel encouraged about his wife’s prospects with some noted improvement in her condition.

“She seems fairly lucid, she didn’t seem to be having any troubles understanding what was going on,” Jenson said. “As of right now, I have every reason to believe that she will be fine, that she will recover and that she will be able to recover swiftly.”

“Swift” was a relative term. Jenson said doctors told him it could be days to a week to a month before Jessi gets off the blood bypass, and even longer before she is free from the ventilator.

The couple’s family set up a GoFundMe* account to help offset expenses.

Jenson said he and his wife had been careful to minimize their risk of contracting COVID-19, and he had really only left the house for work and to go to the store.

He is now cautioning others while he hopes and prays for his wife’s recovery.

“Being young is not a magic bullet to keep you safe,” Jenson said. “Keep in mind that if your friends are not at risk, they may come into contact with people who are. Just try to stay safe, people. Exercise caution and be wise.”

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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