FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A teenager who was intubated for weeks due to COVID-19 spoke from her hospital bed about her fight with the virus and said she cannot wait to return home.
From her hospital bed on Wednesday, 15-year-old Paulina Velasquez shared what her battle with COVID-19 entailed.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I was just very scared, like, to come here, and I didn’t know I was going to stay here for that many days.”
Paulina said she started to feel sick in mid-July. She spent weeks on a ventilator and was taken off it last week, and she now breathes on her own.
“I walked for the first time today, actually,” Paulina said. “It was my idea, and we walked around the bed like three times. I was happy.”
Later Wednesday, Paulina walked out of her hospital room for the first time since she was admitted.
“Now, it’s just a joy and, like, such a happiness,” Agnes Velasquez, Paulina’s mother, said. “I feel like a big rock just came off my chest.”
Dr. Venu Devabhaktuni, the medical director of Broward Health Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit, said seeing her condition now as opposed to when she was first admitted is what makes it all worthwhile.
“It’s kind of touch and go at that point,” Devabhaktuni said. “Things could have gone bad quickly. I walked in today for my shift, and that sweet smile on her face made my day.”
Devabhaktuni said he credits Paulina’s recovery with her being young, healthy and because she received intensive treatments at the hospital.
7News had to don some personal protective equipment to speak with the 15-year-old from her hospital room.
Paulina has since tested negative for the virus, and she no longer needs to remain in a self-contained area. However, she still needs to be protected from any contact or droplets.
The 15-year-old is one of 11 children Broward Health is treating for COVID-19. All of them are unvaccinated.
Paulina said she had planned to get the vaccine, but she was infected with the virus before she received it.
“I think you guys should take the vaccine,” Paulina advised to young people. “It’s very important. I don’t want nobody to go through what I went through.”
“Vaccines have helped, without any doubt,” Devabhaktuni said.
It could be a number of days before the 15-year-old is allowed to leave the hospital. Paulina said she wants to return home and be in her own room.
If you would like to help the Velasquez family with their medical bills, click here to be redirected to their GoFundMe page.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.