While the good antibodies were fighting off Coronavirus in her system, it was also inadvertently also attacking her spinal system.
Stella Martin, a 4-year-old from New Mexico, has been finally discharged after fighting Coronavirus for nine months. Stella was hospitalized after testing positive for the contagious disease on April 24, 2020, said her mother Cassandra Yazzie of Sandoval County. The disease affected Stella more than the regular person because she was diagnosed with asthma as a baby and thus it increased the risk of her getting sicker from the coronavirus. After being diagnosed with the virus, she spent more than five months in the pediatric intensive care unit at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNM) in Albuquerque, followed by another 4 months at UNM's Carrie Tingley Children’s Hospital. She was finally discharged and free to go home in January 2021. "She's a very, very strong little girl," said Yazzie, during an interview with Good Morning America. "She's still fighting and is putting a smile on her face."
It all started after Stella told her Mom that she had back pain. Yazzie took her to the local hospital before being airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where they did a mandatory Coronavirus test upon entry. She had tested positive for the virus. Stella's father had died from complications of Coronavirus on April 18, 2020, and it was suspected she may have caught it then. A neurological team performed an MRI scan to find the source of the back pain and found she had transverse myelitis or swelling of the spinal cord. "They said since COVID was an infection, that the good antibodies were attacking her spinal system when fighting off the Coronavirus," Yazzie said. "The next morning, she was positive for Coronavirus."
Stella's mother Yazzie was not allowed to stay with her until she tested negative for Coronavirus. Stella was fighting for her life at UNM. Her lungs had begun to collapse and she was running a fever. The hospital staff intubated and placed in a coma for three weeks. Yazzie's access to Stella was limited to video calling. The local community helped fund an iPad through which she could connect with her daughter. "My heart was pounding. I was so scared," said Yazzie. "I called maybe four or five times a day and the nurses were really good with her. They said she'd wake up and smile and sometimes would wake up scared and was crying."
Yazzie, who also has a 9-year-old daughter, was finally able to meet her daughter on May 4 after two of her Coronavirus tests came back negative. Stella had come out of a coma and had received a tracheotomy. While Stella was undergoing fighting the deadly disease, she still managed to keep her spirits up and always checked in on her own doctors and nurses. "Even if she doesn't know you, she will tell you she loves you," said Yazzie.
Stella was finally discharged on January 26 after a battle against Coronavirus lasting almost nine months. She was given a sendoff by the staff at the University of New Mexico Hospital. "We celebrate her recovery and the hard work and dedication of our health care team who work tirelessly to help patients like her," said UNM in a statement. Yazzie is relieved to have her home and intends to start physical and occupational therapy to complete her recovery. "We've been fighting for this and training for her to come home. She loves being in the same bed as me, going in the living room, and sitting on the couch. She loves being home." Stella now keeps in touch with her medical staff at UNM via an Instagram page dedicated to her recovery.
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