55-year-old woman makes ‘miraculous’ COVID-19 recovery after being hospitalized for months

Humble hospital organizes surprise after discharge

One woman is making miraculous strides in her recovery after battling COVID-19. After more than five months, doctors deemed she was well enough to go home.

In late September, Valerie Garcia, 55, started feeling symptoms. However, because she felt comfortable that she was taking all necessary precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, she thought her symptoms were those of allergies.

In October, though, things got worse, she was sent to the hospital.

“You just think it was allergies, next thing you know... 1-3 days and it hit her,” said her sister Connie Zapata.

She was transferred to multiple facilities as her condition worsened. Soon, she was on a ventilator and ECMO and stayed on those machines for 75 days.

”She had zero capacity for her lung usage, so the only thing breathing for her through her was the oxygen,” Zapata said.

During the process, she was under an induced coma and also went through many blood transfusions.

The family prayed hard for her recovery, despite Garcia’s stagnant condition.

“They just kept saying there’s no improvement,” Zapata said.

The family heard many times from doctors that it was likely Garcia would not make it. Her body systems were failing her.

”They said her lungs are never going to work again. So we had an option... ’What about a double lung transplant?’ ‘She’s not a candidate for that,” Zapata said.

However, Garcia’s body started to make a comeback. Her body, especially her lungs, started to heal.

“This is a glorious day for us,” Zapata said.

After five and a half months, at the PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble, where Garcia did physical therapy, doctors said Garcia was well enough to be released.

“It’s a true blessing. God has been with us this whole time,” said Victoria Estrada, Garcia’s daughter.

Garcia’s medical and physical therapy team planned a surprise event where the family gathered at the PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble to surprise Garcia when she was being discharged.

Cheering, balloons, signs, and smiling faces met Garcia on her way out.

“She’s so strong. She’s always been so strong,” Estrada said. “She told me before she was intubated, she was going to fight! She just needed more time and that’s why we kept fighting for her.”

Garcia’s body made a comeback like none her doctor, Dr. Bryan Lipsen, had ever seen.

“Not like this patient. Not what she has been through. This is really a miracle. It sort of makes healthcare professionals like me think about being more religious,” Lipsen said.

Garcia thanked those who came and said it was truly a surprise. She said her feelings have changed too.

“Joyful. Joyful with the family,” Garcia said.

This family believes.

“She’s a miracle,” Zapata said.

When faith fights, it wins.

“I want to thank God. God was the one that answered our prayers and gave and touched those nurses and doctors to have them know what to do,” Zapata said.

While Garcia is still recovering day by day, her family believes she will get stronger every day. They said they have a lot of catching up to do.