After catching COVID, Claudia Patterson's lungs were only functioning at 15 percent. So doctors had to make some tough choices.
When Claudia Patterson contracted COVID-19 in July, she slipped into a coma for two months.
Her husband, Raymond, was by her side as doctors decided the Arizona resident needed to be put onto an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.
"When someone is really sick with a COVID case, and COVID goes in and attacks the lung, it gets so bad that your body isn't able to deliver oxygen right through your lungs to your blood," Dr. Shad Marvasti, from the University of Arizona said. "And that's where ECMO comes in."
Claudia's lungs were only functioning at 15 percent, leading some doctors to think she'd need a lung transplant to survive. But she stayed on the ECMO machine for 135 days.
"Not only are you on a machine and a ventilator and all of that, but you had to stay kind of still because any false move could have exploded the blood," Claudia Patterson said.
Eventually, doctors decided that with plenty of physical and occupational therapy, Claudia could get better.
Claudia re-learned how to walk and talk, and was finally ready to leave Dignity Health St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and head home for the first time in almost seven months.
"I was able to take a sigh of relief," Raymond said. "You know it's like okay. We kind of made it through the hard part."
And as she closes one chapter, Claudia's main focus now is to recover.
"I feel okay," she said. I've still got a long ways to go with my breathing. I'm grateful that if that's the only thing that's wrong right now. I'm grateful for that."