Yanira Soriano gave birth to her son Walter on April 3, but was unable to see him until Wednesday.

By Rachel DeSantis
Updated April 17, 2020
Credit: Northwell Health

A mother who gave birth to her son while in a medically induced coma due to COVID-19 met her newborn for the first time on Wednesday as she was discharged from the hospital.

Yanira Soriano, 36, was able to hold little Walter in her arms for the first time outside of Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, 12 days after the child was born via emergency C-section, says Northwell Health spokeswoman Alexandra Zendrian.

Video shared by the hospital shows Soriano being escorted outside in a wheelchair as nurses and doctors wave, clap and cheer. Once outside, she’s handed her little boy and cradles him close.

“Today was a great day,” said Benjamin Schwartz, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health, Southside Hospital. “It’s an incredibly proud moment for not just the department of obstetrics and gynecology, but for Southside Hospital and the entire team that works here.”

Yanira Soriano

Soriano was admitted to the hospital on April 2 at 34 weeks pregnant with COVID-19 pneumonia, said Zendrian.

She was placed on a ventilator, and the next day, gave birth to her son via C-section while under general anesthesia and in a medically induced coma, the hospital said.

“She was not awake when her baby was born, and did not hear the baby cry or have any opportunity to meet him right after his birth,” Schwartz said.

Walter was transferred to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York shortly after birth, so when Soriano was taken off of her ventilator after 11 days, she was not able to meet him immediately.

Schwartz said that doctors decided to deliver Walter in the hopes that it would improve Soriano’s breathing, as they thought that the pregnancy and the space he was taking in her abdomen may have been making it difficult for her to take a deep breath and get enough oxygen.

He added that there was also concern that the child “could be in serious danger” if it stayed, as Soriano’s oxygen levels were very low from her illness.

“The fact that this mom not only survived but was able to get out of her wheelchair and walk into her car and hold her baby gives us all incredible hope for our future patients and our existing patients that have COVID disease,” Schwartz said.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 638,374 cases and 28,628 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the U.S., according to The New York Times. In New York alone, there were 213,779 cases and 11,586 deaths, the Times reported.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.


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