CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Woman Returns Home, Cautions Others After 3-Month Battle With COVID-19

Dec 7, 2020, 11:50 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

HERRIMAN, Utah – A woman urged others to take COVID-19 more seriously after she returned home from the hospital following a battle with the disease that lasted more than three months.

Laura Balfour, 65, said she spent roughly two months on a ventilator — a time period she hardly recalled Monday.

“I’m a miracle,” Balfour said. “It doesn’t usually happen that way.”

Balfour said she had been plenty healthy and cautious prior to developing symptoms on Aug. 24.

By Sept. 3, she was struggling to breathe.

After one night at Riverton Hospital, she was transferred to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where she was placed on a ventilator on Sept. 7.

“I’d heard how people on ventilators didn’t survive and so I was like fighting them,” Balfour said. “One night at 10:30 at night I guess they just did it.”

Balfour remembers almost nothing about the next two months, during which she remained on the ventilator, fighting for her life.

“(My husband) says, ‘Do you know what month it is?’” Balfour said, recalling one of her few intact memories. “I says, ‘Yeah, it’s September — it’s time for my birthday.’ And he goes, ‘No, it’s November.’”

Family members said doctors and support staff actually prepared them in early October for the worst-case scenario — even apparently telling Balfour’s husband to plan for her funeral.

Later in October, however, Balfour suddenly began to improve.

On Oct. 22, Balfour’s oral ventilator was exchanged for one that connected to her trach tube. She was then transferred to another care facility on Oct. 27.

Her ventilator was removed on Nov. 23 and she was finally discharged from a rehab center Monday afternoon, 95 days after she first entered the hospital.

“I’m really lucky — I’m a miracle,” she said. “Everyone at the hospital called me a miracle.”

Balfour said the medical bills have been a shock to the system. Though she is insured, she feared other COVID-19 survivors may not be.

“Just the hospital alone was over $700,000,” she said.

She has struggled to look at pictures from her time on a ventilator.

“It’s too hard to see those,” Balfour said, teary-eyed. “It’s way too hard.”

She said she was grateful for the efforts doctors took to save her life and for the love and support of her family throughout her ordeal.

“It’s been a long, hard road,” Balfour said.

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