MedWatch Today: Mother fighting COVID-19 released from hospital after two months


A young local mother wasn’t able to see her children for almost two months while battling through the Coronavirus. Thanks to the medical staff at Community Regional Medical Center, 35-year old Sophia Zapata was recently able to go home and our cameras caught the very emotional reunion.

It was an uphill battle for Sophia Zapata, for two months away from her family, hospitalized and fighting the Coronavirus.

Sophia’s father Ruben Perez said, “It ended up that she wasn’t getting better they had to put a ventilator down her throat, that wasn’t helping, they say her lungs, the virus just took a toll on her lungs.”

Ruben said his daughter was transferred to Community Regional Medical Center from another local hospital.

Dr. Timothy Evans explained why, he said, “So we are a regional resource for ECMO, that’s sort of a heart lung bypass process where we put large tubes in blood vessels, we drain the blood out of the patient, it goes through a special machine that adds oxygen, takes out carbon dioxide then returns it to the patient so it really takes over for what the lungs normally do.”

Sophia was previously put on a ventilator, but that treatment was not working. She was critically ill and Dr. Evans said it was the ECMO machine that helped keep her alive. ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. I’s essentially a life support machine and helps people who have a severe or life-threatening illness that prevents their heart or lungs from working properly. Community Regional is the only hospital in the valley that offers ECMO for adults.

Dr. Evans continued, “We only put patients on here who we feel are almost certainly going to die unless we do so, and then among those patients we select very carefully to make sure we have patients who really have the best likelihood of survival with this kind of technology.”

Ruben stated, “We needed a miracle to survive. My pastor, our church, other churches, I mean so many people, we just started praying and praying and slowly she started recovering.”

We caught up with Sophia right before she was about to be discharged. She told us what she’s going to do as soon as she gets home.

“Just holding my babies and just be with my family. It’s been over 60 days without them,” said Sophia.

Sophia hopes her story reminds people of the harsh reality of this deadly virus.

She cried, “This is like really no joke, this COVID-19.”

As Sophia was escorted out of the hospital, staff and faculty cheered her on, greeted at the end by her family and church members.

Tirso Gonzales is the pastor at Life Center Church where Sophia and her family attend. Tirso said, “So the family is just an awesome strong family and their faith was never wavered, was never shaken. They were praying. We the church has been praying and just miracle after miracle the recovery stages that she has taken has been pretty rapid.”

Tirso said this really was a miracle, and he is happy Sophia gets to safely return to her family – something Dr. Evans said they strive to achieve with all their patients fighting COVID-19.

“There’s nothing we like better than a patient getting up and walking away… We’re just very happy, this just makes us smile and we’re very grateful to be able to offer this kind of service,” ended Dr. Evans.

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