‘Second chance at life’: Fort Smith 19-year-old recovering from month-long fight with COVID-19

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — A 19-year-old from Fort Smith is recovering after spending the past month in a Little Rock hospital fighting COVID-19.

Magdalena Gonzalez was diagnosed with pneumonia and COVID-19 at the end of July.

“I was really scared about the tube but they told me it was the only option,” she said with labored breath. “It was really intimidating when they had to put the tube in.”

Magdalena never expected to suffer from COVID-19 so badly given her age. However, the more contagious Delta variant has been hitting younger people harder than the original strain of the virus.

“The first time they tried getting me up, it was really hard breathing and I couldn’t breathe, so I had to sit down, but now it’s easier to breathe,” she said.

Magdalena went on a ventilator on August 1st and was in a coma for 18 days at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. It was a terrifying time for her family.

“It’s been really really hard, I never imagined going through something like this,” said Magdalena’s older sister, Mary. “I think it’s a miracle that she’s still able to be here with us. I feel really grateful. I’m honestly in debt with God.”

Mary said their parents have been with her at the hospital the whole time and other family members would bring them clothes every few days.

People gathered for a vigil and fundraiser for Magdalena in Fort Smith on August 22nd. Mary said it was a peaceful event, and she is grateful for the support from the community.

Magdalena has been in therapy recovering since coming off the ventilator.

“Basically learning to walk again and how to stand on my own, and I’ve been getting therapy and getting better,” said Magdalena.

Now her family has a message for other Arkansans, especially fellow members of the Hispanic community.

“Us personally, we didn’t believe in the vaccine honestly, when it first came out,” said Mary. “We said we weren’t going to get it because we didn’t believe in it, but now all of us have our vaccine.”

Magdalena is looking forward to going home.

“Just spending time with my family and being grateful to God for giving me a second chance at life,” said Magdalena.

Mary said her sister should get to come home on Friday if all goes according to plan, and she and her family got their second dose of the vaccine on Tuesday.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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