CICERO, Ill. (CBS) — There was a happy homecoming Thursday for a COVID-19 patient.
At only 23 years old, Yuli Diaz said she is living proof that the virus does not care about your age or background. CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross shared Diaz’s warning to others Thursday.
The cascading car horns in Cicero were accompanied by musical horns and strings, and other mariachi things. It was part homecoming celebration, and part celebration of life.
“Thankful that I’m here ready to party,” Diaz said.
A caravan of cars wished Diaz well.
“It’s really nice to finally see outdoors,” she said. “The only thing I saw from my window was buildings, water.”
Diaz spent the past 54 days in hospitals, most at Maywood’s Loyola University Medical Center.
She is studying to be in the medical field. But back in mid-April, she was on the wrong side of medical care.
She tested positive for COVID-19. Her aunt, Denise Sandoval, described the harrowing health journey.
“As the aunt, I was trembling inside,” Sandoval said. “My heart was broken.”
“I was on the ventilator I think most of May,” Diaz said. “I want to say it was like 22 days.”
“When she told me she was on the ventilator, I know that was like a 50 percent chance,” Sandoval said.
And indeed the situation was dire.
“At one point, the ventilator was doing 70 percent of my breathing,” Diaz said. “I was only doing 30.”
“It got to the point where we were allowed to say our farewells,” Sandoval said. “Things got, she doesn’t know how bad it got.”
Diaz said she is lucky to be alive.
“The floor I was on, a lot of people didn’t make it out,” she said. I was one of the few.”
“It was a very traumatic experience,” Sandoval said.
“I still had so much stuff for me,” Diaz said. “I wanted to finish school, travel, still be around my family.”
Sandoval said her niece made it “because she’s the strongest, brightest girl I know.”
The 23-year-old spent nearly two months in the hospital. She says an underlying medical condition is largely responsible for that.
“I’m actually diabetic, so I was kind of at risk more than anybody else,” Diaz said.
Thursday marked the first time this summer the family was together outside of a hospital’s walls. Drinks were served, and with the help of leg braces and ongoing occupational therapy, Diaz managed to dance.
She was bedridden by the virus. COVID-19 took some of her muscle strength, but failed to take her resolve.
“Just celebrating life, and I’m glad to be with everybody,” Diaz said.
Diaz was also given the drug Remdesivir, which has shown promising results in helping patients recover faster.