MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida healthcare worker who spent nine months in the hospital fighting COVID-19 was able to spend Christmas in the company of loved ones, as she faces a long and challenging road to recovery.

Like many families across the country, it was a different kind of Yuletide celebration for Rosa Felipe Marte and her family this year.

7News cameras captured Felipe Marte, her husband and two children as they prayed before enjoying their Christmas dinner, Friday.

“I’m so glad I’m here for my children, I’m so glad,” she said.

Unlike many, the occasion was one Marte thought she would never see.

Cameras captured Felipe Marte, a Jackson Health technician, as she was released from Jackson Memorial Hospital, Dec. 8.

She was able to hug her family for the first time after spending nine months battling the virus.

Felipe Marte spent the first two months in the intensive care unit and an unbearable number of days unable to communicate with her children.

“I didn’t think I was going to be here, and my phone was lost while I was intubated,” she said. “WhatsApp backed up all the messages. The hardest part was reading my son’s messages. He was asking me to hold on, he was asking me to live, he was saying, ‘Mommy, please don’t die. Mommy, I need you.'”

Thankfully, the family’s prayers were answered. Felipe Marte was able to celebrate with her husband and sons.

“Amazing, super amazing. I thought I wouldn’t have her here, but here she is,” said Saiid Marte, her 12-year-old son.

On the dinner menu was a favorite dish, rice and pigeon peas, practically the only tradition that they’re sticking with this year.

Instead of big parties, they connected with extended family via Zoom meetings.

There were no presents under the tree, this year, and that’s fine for them, even for Saiid.

“Gifts don’t matter. Having a good time and just being happy is what matters on this day,” he said.

“I’m so happy. I’m thankful that I get to be here,” said Felipe Marte. “We don’t have gifts, but we have each other, and I think that’s like the real meaning of Christmas.”

Marte lost part of her legs in the brutal battle with the coronavirus, but not her fighting spirit. It took months of rehab for her to re-learn how to walk, and now she’s able to stand tall and face the long road ahead of her head on.

Felipe Marte said she will soon have her finger tips amputated due to severe lack of oxygen, but that’s something she can focus on after Christmas.

As she joined her family at the dinner table, Felipe Marte had a special message for South Floridians.

“Wear a mask, wear a mask. Wear two if you want to, just wear a mask,” she said. “I can’t not think of other people who corona has touched who didn’t get this opportunity, whose Christmas is forever changed. My heart goes out to them.”

Felipe Marte also took the opportunity to thank the team at JMH for saving her life.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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