She wasn't allowed visitors.
Doctors would call Nohemi Romero, her mother in North Carolina, with updates.
"They were told to come, that I wasn't going to make it past the night, so they took the first flight out of Wilmington, N.C.", Ramirez said.
Ramirez, sitting next to her mother during a news conference at the hospital, said her family made the trip to Chicago with the intention of saying goodbye. Now, more than three months after she was admitted to the hospital, she's going home, Denise Grady reports for the New York Times.
Ramirez underwent the lung transplant on June 5 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Ramirez, 28, spoke to the media on Thursday alongside Brian Kuhns, 62, of Lake Zurich, Illinois, who followed her as the second USA coronavirus patient to undergo a double transplant.
Bharat is calling Ramirez's surgery a "milestone" in care for patients with severe COVID-19. According to Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director for Northwestern Medicine's lung transplant program who performed Ramirez's surgery, Ramirez developed secondary bacterial infections that couldn't be treated with antibiotics because of the extent of lung damage she'd experienced. Transplants can be performed on patients who've eliminated the virus and have no other significant organ failure, said Dr. Rafael Garza Castillon, a thoracic surgeon.
"Lung transplant isn't for every patient with COVID-19, but it does offer some of the critically ill patients another option for survival", Bharat said. She still feels tired doing everyday tasks.
Before she fell ill, she said, she was an independent, active person.
Mayra Ramirez, 28, was discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago this week, almost two months after she received a double-lung transplant in a 10-hour operation that her doctor said was necessary to save her life.
Mayra Ramirez, 28, spoke to the media on Thursday alongside Brian Kuhns, 62, of Lake Zurich, Illinois, who followed her as the second USA coronavirus patient to undergo the procedure.
She loved spending time with her two dogs. Shortly before becoming ill, she went on a 3-mile run. She lost her senses of taste and smell, felt dizzy and had headaches. One day, she fainted, and decided it was time to go to the emergency room.
When she arrived, "Everything happened so quickly", she said.
"I was told to hurry up (and) change", she said. "I was asked who would be making my medical decisions for me". That's when I told them it would be my mother and eldest sister who all live in North Carolina. "I only had a couple minutes to contact them to let them know what was going on before I was intubated". She underwent the lung transplant on June 5. She didn't wake up until mid-June. She spent six weeks on a ventilator and ECMO, a life support machine that does the work of the heart and lungs.
"It wasn't until weeks later that I had the ability to, you know, think to myself, "There's a family out there that's grieving their loved one", Ramirez said at the press conference. "Wiggling my toes was hard and it felt like I had lost a lot of cognitive abilities. All I knew was that I wanted water". She'll be on anti-rejection medications the rest of her life, and while transplanted lungs can be rejected, he said he's seen some last 20 years before a patient needs another transplant.
'I have that person's lungs and how lucky I was to have received it'.
Now, as she continues to recover, Ramirez is grateful for the care she received and the opportunity she was given. The surgery took much longer than most lung transplant surgeries because the inflammation the coronavirus had caused in Ramirez's lungs left them "completely plastered to tissue around them, the heart, the chest wall, and diaphragm", Bharat said.
Kuhns' COVID-19 ordeal also began in March. He didn't think COVID-19 was a serious threat, so he had continued living his life normally despite the illness' spread. "I think people need to recognize this option earlier and just start at least talking about it before it gets to that point", he said.