Zully was around eight months pregnant when she began to cough and wheeze. Then came the hospitalization, the COVID-19 diagnosis — and word that because the baby’s oxygen levels were dropping, he’d have to be delivered weeks early.
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For Zully and her family, who emigrated to Stamford, Connecticut from Guatemala, it was a crisis moment: Her husband, Marvin, and seven-year-old son, Junior, were also believed to be infected with the coronavirus — meaning that once the baby was born, it wouldn’t be safe for him to go home to them.
“I would’ve turned into my son’s assassin,” Marvin says.
Zully (above, left) had nowhere else to turn. In early April, just before giving birth on a ventilator and being put into a coma that would last for nearly three weeks, she made a desperate phone call to her older son’s English as a Second Language teacher, Luciana Lira (above, right) — an immigrant herself — saying that Marvin and Junior needed help.
Lira didn’t hesitate. Ultimately, she would go on to take the baby, Neysel, into her home to keep him safe from the virus as his mother, father and brother recovered from it.
“I am willing to help, 100 percent,” the teacher recalls saying.
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