After spending 135 days in a Fort Worth hospital battling COVID-19, Ana Vilma Reyes was greeted with cheers and signs when she was released late last month.
Reyes' family said she was admitted to John Peter Smith Hospital on Jan. 9 after they called an ambulance for her.
“It was a scary thing when we first find out that she was sick and we decided to take her to the hospital and we were not expecting she would get sick, or get this sick," said Marcia Cuadra, Reyes' daughter. "It all started with allergies, started with a runny nose, a few days later a headache and fever and weakness."
She said her mother was having problems breathing and tested positive for COVID-19 at the hospital. She was given oxygen and later intubated.
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"I think the most difficult part is whenever they didn’t allow us to go to the hospital to go see her, to be able to be there and touch her and talk to her. We had to do it through a camera, FaceTime which was horrible for us as a family," Cuarda said.
It brought up memories of what happened in Oct. 2020, when her dad died alone in the hospital after a three-week battle with COVID-19. She and her siblings saw him take his last breaths through the phone.
"Sometimes you lose faith and (ask) why God gives you so much because I had lost my dad," Cuadra said. “Why did this have to happen to us? And especially to me because I had just lost my dad and we kept our faith."
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She said doctors initially said her mother had a 15% chance of survival and she was not improving. Cuadra said they made the tough decision to take their father off life support but didn't want to make that decision this time around with their mother.
“I said, ‘No I don’t’ want for her to suffer, I want her to get better, but I’m not going to decide to disconnect her because I did that before with my father, so I’m going to let God do the job for her," Cuadra said. "If he wants her he’s going to take her, if he decides he wants to keep her."
After a lot of prayers, along with the help of doctors and nurses, her mother started to improve. She was in a wheelchair when she left the hospital May 24 and still relies on oxygen, but is able to talk.
"I want her to know that I love her so much and I'm so thankful to God that he allowed her to be with me and my siblings again," Cuadra cried.
The family placed Reyes on a waiting list at the end of December to get a vaccine. During that time, they were hard to find, and by the time she was scheduled for a shot, she was already in the hospital.
COVID-19 cases have dropped significantly since the beginning of the year, in large part due to vaccines.
"As of Friday afternoon, we had 16 actives patients in-house which is basically the lowest since last March, if you could believe that," said Dr. Joseph Chang, chief medical officer at Parkland Health and Hospital System.
He said they've been bouncing from 15 to 25 patients over the last two to three weeks, which is far less than months before.
“I would say we’re really in a good spot with COVID," Chang said. "COVID has become one of the things we do instead of the only thing we do."
He echoed what's been said over the past year in regards to those who have pre-existing conditions tend to be more susceptible to the illness, but there's still the fact COVID-19 has impacted people of all ages and conditions differently.
“COVID itself really hasn't changed at all even though the numbers have changed, the disease is still hurting folks," Chang said.
He said health care professionals have gotten better over time providing supportive care to help the body fight the disease and keep people alive, but there are still factors of uncertainty.
"My message to everybody, please go get vaccinated, it’s absolutely the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you," Chang said. "We have had less than five individuals admitted, hospitalized in our hospital that have been vaccinated, so basically from that, you can tell, that everybody who gets sick still is unvaccinated. Again, that’s not surprising we’ve known that was going to be the case and break through cases are very, very few, though not impossible."