By Jeremy Ross

CHICAGO (CBS)– This past week many frontline workers received their first of two COVID-19 vaccines. And for one worker, that day was more emotional than for most.

CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross has the details on Yuli Diaz’s happy holiday that came close to never happening.

Diaz is a medical student studying to be a radiologic technologist. She opened gifts from loved ones, those same family members who only months ago prepared to say goodbye to her.

“My family could have been honestly, having a funeral or burial for me,” Diaz said.

There was no guarantee she would make it to Christmas. In April she contracted COVID-19, the mix of the virus and her diabetes was a cocktail for catastrophe.

The virus impacted her lungs and she needed to be on a ventilator for 22 days She lost consciousness and a portion of the year.

Much of her care took place at Maywood’s Loyola University Medical Center. Back in July her family described the gravity of her situation.

“It got to the point where we were allowed to say our farewells, she doesn’t know how bad it got,” her family told CBS 2.

That was reason enough to line up a car caravan celebration as she was finally able to leave the hospital in July. Previously bedridden, her legs were supported by braces

Now she’s able to walk without them and her body continues to heal.

Days ago that healing process included this medical student getting the first of her COVID-19 vaccinations.

“I got really emotional,” Diaz said.

While there’s more healing to be done, she’s grateful to see another Christmas and hopeful there will be many more.

“The virus did take a lot from me but it’s the motivation to keep going,” She said.

Diaz says it’s important people know that she’s excited to take the vaccine, because until she gets immunized it’s possible she could get it again.

She wants as many people to avoid the pain and recovery she’s still going though.

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