SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Chula Vista teenager is recovering after a long battle with COVID-19 left her fighting for her life.
Maya Barajas, 19, received a convalescent plasma donation and is now learning to walk and talk again in a rehabilitation center after spending 20 days on a ventilator.
"I thought it was a horrible nightmare, it was very scary," said her mother, Marielena Barajas. "She is making progress, though; she's able to stand for longer periods of time, walk longer distances."
Barajas said things went downhill once her daughter entered the emergency room at Sharp Chula Vista in early April.
"She went into respiratory distress, they had to intubate her, put on a ventilator, move her to the ICU," Barajas explained.
Maya was transferred to Sharp Memorial Hospital.
Barajas was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late March and unknowingly spread the virus to her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law while the family sheltered in place during stay-at-home orders.
"I was worried to give it to anyone in my household as soon as I started knowing that I was sick," Barajas said. "I immediately thought of my elderly in-laws at first."
The family had no idea the virus would hit Maya the hardest.
"Imagine your child walking into the hospital, then all of a sudden getting a phone call at midnight that she's in respiratory distress," said her father, Jorge.
After Maya's condition continued to decline, her mother contacted Gilead Sciences, the company that makes the antiviral drug remdesivir.
Remdesivir had shown early promising results in treating severely ill COVID-19 patients.
Unfortunately, Barajas said her daughter's ICU doctor told her the hospital was still in the process of trying to get expanded access to the drug.
Instead, the doctor and Barajas came up with a plan to have her donate convalescent plasma for Maya since she had already recovered from COVID-19 and was eligible.
The process was going to take a few days, and Maya needed immediate help.
The family received great news from the San Diego Blood Bank: it had an available unit of convalescent plasma on hand.
Maya received a transfusion as her health was declining, and soon enough she started to recover.
"The patient's condition, going down very fast, quickly stabilized after the CCP transfusion. The patient's provider was very grateful that there was another treatment therapy as he had no other options for his patient," according to John Stephan, a Sharp HealthCare Senior Blood Bank Specialist.
Barajas still decided to donate her convalescent plasma in hopes of helping another family in need.
"We're all in this together," Barajas said. "Go donate convalescent plasma if you can, anything that can help is a good thing right now for these patients that need it."
People can donate if they have recovered from COVID-19 and now test negative. They can donate after 14 days of no symptoms if qualified, according to the San Diego Blood Bank.
To submit your information to be qualified click here.