New mom battling COVID needs lung transplant weeks after giving birth


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) A fundraiser has been set up to help a new mom battling COVID-19 who needs a lung transplant to see her baby.

Gabriela Acuna was pregnant when she got COVID in August and her health quickly declined.

“Like so many pregnant women she held off on getting the vaccine until she got the A-okay from her OB,” her sister, Paula Olmeda, said. “The week she had her appointment to ask for OB’s blessing, she got COVID. Like so many, she went to the ER asking for help to breathe but she was turned away three times before they had no choice but to take her.”

Due to her pregnancy, Acuna’s family said she was not put on a ventilator and did not receive other treatments because doctors didn’t want to hurt the baby. Her family wasn’t allowed to be by her side because of hospital COVID guidelines.

“Gaby fought and fought for two weeks as her family watched helplessly through FaceTime,” Olmeda added. Her last words to my mother were, “’Mom, I have nothing for the baby.’ Gaby I’ll get that nursery ready! I’ll take care of it!”

The baby was born on Sept. 13 at 1 pound, 10 ounces.

Just shy of Acuna’s 30th birthday, she has been in and out of the hospital.

“She has been intubated. She has gotten a tracheotomy, her lungs have collapsed multiple times,” Olmeda said. “She has three chest tubes in her lungs, a cyst on the lungs, and she went through cardiac arrest and by the miracle of God, my sweet sister is still with us. Told you she was a fighter.”

Acuna is in need of a lung transplant. Her family says she is the perfect candidate. She passed all the necessary tests and her insurance would approve her transplant. In the eleventh hour, Medicaid changed its mind.

“The evening she was going to be airlifted from Her hospital in Las Vegas to the hospital in California, we got a phone call,” Olmeda said. “Medicaid denied her last minute. The helicopter arrived at the hospital awaiting her and they let it fly away. It wasn’t until the following day that we learned that Medicaid in the state of Nevada does not approve lung transplants.”

Now the family is trying to raise $2,500,000 so they can pay for this surgery out-of-pocket and Acuna can see her baby.

To help donate please visit their GoFundMe page.

If insurance does end up covering the various treatments, the family says they will donate the money to another person needing a transplant.

8 News Now reached out to state health officials and Centennial Hills Hospital to see what can be done about Acuna’s treatment but have not yet received responses.

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