NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Donna Arcenio contracted COVID-19 in March of last year.
At the time there were personal protective equipment shortages and medical professionals were dealing with a virus they didn’t know much about.
Arcenio is one of the lucky few who pulled through. She spent two months in the ICU, but walked out of the hospital.
Arcenio said she waited until she couldn’t anymore, and when she called an ambulance, she had to get herself into it.
“I laid in bed for 10 days getting worse. [Paramedics] were afraid to touch me. They were afraid they could get it,” Arcenio said.
Once she finally got to a hospital, it was full.
“They wanted to send me home. I said, ‘You can’t send me home,'” Arcenio recalled.
Arcenio was put on a ventilator and into a medically-induced coma for two weeks.
“So many people around me were dying. They expected me to die too. They called my family and told them I had less than 24 hours to live,” she said.
After two and a half months in two different hospitals, she was released. But before she left, she met one of the nurses that took care of her.
“She started crying as she was holding my hand, and she said ‘My job was to hold the hand of people dying when they were being pronated and on the ventilator because we just didn’t know what to do. And so all we could do was hold their hands and pray for them,” Arcenio said.
She’s still dealing with lung and kidney damage.
Arcenio lost close to 60 pounds but feels blessed to be alive and breathing on her own.
Since recovering she’s taken up gardening and kayaking.
“It’s actually been a blessing for me. I know that sounds a little strange. But it’s been a blessing in a way the average person can’t understand,” Arcenio said.