NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE
DALLAS — From her hospital bed at Baylor Specialty Hospital in Dallas Monday morning, Hailey Sparks held the tiny ink footprints and hand-prints of her son for the first time.
Until Monday, she had been on a ventilator, unable to talk. Doctors put her in a medically-induced coma the week before Christmas.
Sparks recalled her final memory before doctors put her under. "All I could do was gasp; that was it," she said. "I couldn't take a deep breath. And I was like I can't breathe."
"And I wake up three weeks later, and I have no clue," she said in a soft, hoarse voice.
The 22-year-old expectant mother had been fighting for two, against the flu. She was on a rotating bed for nearly a week as doctors attempted to break up the pneumonia choking the very life out of her.
Pregnant women like Sparks are at higher risk of complications from influenza infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In the latest available report, Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 26 pregnant women were hospitalized with influenza.
Twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy, Robby Sparks got a disturbing phone call about the condition of his wife and unborn child.
"Her doctor called me and said that they have no choice but to take the baby out, or risk losing them both,” Robby recalled. "And I said, 'OK.'"
Hailey underwent an emergency Cesarean section.
"She's been doing better ever since," Robby said through tears of relief and sadness.
Evrain Joe, the couple's second son, survived just five days. Hailey never got to see him.
Both parents regret failing to get inoculated against the flu.
"Never thought I would get it," Hailey said in a hoarse whisper. "I was wrong. I would get one, if I could do it again. Get a flu shot. It's not worth this."
The Sparks are grateful for the friends and family who have supported and prayed for them in this difficult time. The young couple has no insurance.
Hailey faces weeks more in the hospital. She still has a trachea tube and will likely also require rehabilitation.
But it may take her heart a lifetime to recover from the devastating consequences of the flu.