An Illinois mother is pushing for pregnant women to get a COVID-19 vaccination after she came close to death because of the virus and had to deliver her son seven weeks early.
Samantha Kelly recently met her newborn son, Holden, for the first time since contracting COVID-19 while pregnant — and being placed in a medically-induced coma after giving birth — according to a GoFundMe set up to benefit her family.
"She is extremely weak and will have a long road to recovery but we can finally see the light after being in this dark place," Kelly's mom, Amy, wrote in an update on the donation page on Sept. 19. "Next step for her to meet Holden we are blessed to have everyone of you in our lives. I believe in the power of kindness and prayer."
Two days later, a picture of Kelly holding her son was shared on the GoFundMe, which has raised more than $16,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
In an interview with WLS-TV, Kelly — who has two other children ages 3 and 5 with her husband, Donnell — said she "was almost dead," adding that there were a "couple of scary times I heard I was close to not making it."
According to the outlet, Kelly was just over seven months pregnant when she and her family contracted the virus. Kelly soon experienced difficulty breathing and a fever, her husband recalled. She had planned to get her first of two vaccine shots later that week.
"A lot of decisions being thrown at you, you try as [a] mom [to] make the best one," she told WLS-TV. "I unfortunately made the wrong one, should've gotten the vaccine."
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone age 12 and older, including women who are pregnant (or want to become pregnant).
Today, Kelly no longer needs to be intubated, but she cannot yet see her two other children.
"I cannot wait until I can see my kids again. I wish I would've gotten vaccinated, I really wish I would've," she told WLS-TV. "I hope every pregnant woman gets it. It's so much better than near death."
As of Wednesday afternoon, 55 percent of people in the United States have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 64 percent have had at least one dose, according to the New York Times.
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 the CDC, WHO and local public health departments.PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.