NJ family of brain-damaged mom worries about COVID exposure

New Jersey

NEW JERSEY — The family of a first-time mom who suffered brain-damage during an emergency C-section in July pushed to get her moved out of a New Jersey hospital’s Intensive Care Unit Monday, as COVID-19 cases are surging in the state.

Estefenia Mesa Vanegas, a 29-year-old bakery manager, was initially in a vegetative state, but her relatives said she is now “minimally conscious.”

“I was just crying when I saw her like that,” said Mesa’s partner, Eduardo Arqueta, who told PIX11 News he was waiting outside an operating room at Hoboken University Medical Center on July 20, ready to cut his newborn daughter’s umbilical cord.

But that moment never happened, and Aqueta said he remembered a nurse running in and out of the operating room in a panic.

“She said, ‘Call the Code Blue! Call the Code Blue!'” Arqueta recalled. “They were rolling Estefenia out of the room, and I saw that she didn’t look well, almost like her eyes rolled back.”

Mesa was on a ventilator, while baby Emma ultimately went home to the family’s North Bergen apartment with her father.

Arqueta said some medical personnel told him that Estefenia suffered oxygen loss of two or three minutes during the cardiac arrest, but he noted that a doctor in the hospital told him the next day that Mesa’s serious condition must have been caused by a greater period of oxygen deprivation.

Arqueta said a part-time nurse told him to keep investigating and seeking the truth.

The family retained certified civil trial attorney, Samuel Davis, of the firm Davis, Saperstein and Salomon in Teaneck, New Jersey. He filed a petition seeking the medical documents from Mesa’s time in the labor ward and the operating room and also hired a production team to chronicle her story. A 12-minute video was produced by “Through the Lens.”

“This is the medical records that were given to the family,” Davis told PIX11 in a ZOOM interview, as he lifted up a huge stack of documents in his office. “1,200 sheets of paper. Unfortunately, no where in these documents are the most important records that would suggest what went wrong, who was participating.”

“You’ve got at least four doctors and two nurses in the room,” Davis said. “Why did this happen?”

Davis said information he was able to glean from the documents, assisted by a neurologist he hired, suggested Estefenia Mesa lost a lot of oxygen to the brain.

“We don’t know the amount of time,” the lawyer said. “It could be nine minutes, it could be 10 minutes, it could be 15 minutes.”

When PIX11 contacted Hoboken University Medical Center for comment, we were referred to Eric Bloom, managing director for Mercury, a public relations firm based in lower Manhattan that handles media for the Hoboken facility and Care Point, the health care network that owns the hospital.

“No comment,” Bloom said on behalf of the facility.

Attorney Samuel Davis is planning to file a lawsuit.

The baby’s father has relied on Estefenia Mesa’s mother to care for baby Emma each day, while he visits the hospital and then works as a waiter.

The sweet little baby girl is now just over three months old.

Estefenia Mesa’s mother, Luz Vanegas, is anxious about letters she’s been receiving from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this year concerning possible deportation.

Vanegas is a Colombian national who has lived in the United States for 20 years and is married to a U.S. citizen.

“I want to be there with my daughter during her rehab,” the crying mother said in Spanish, during filming by the lawyer’s production team. “The pain I’m feeling right now as a mother, I don’t wish on anyone.”

Family friend Jennifer Romero set up a GoFundMe page to help defray enormous medical costs for the family of Estefenia Mesa Vanegas.

Mesa’s partner, Eduardo, got emotional recalling that he grew up without a father figure.

Now, his baby Emma is missing the loving care of her mother.

“We promised to each other we were going to be the best parents we could be,” Eduardo Arqueta said sadly.

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