Filipino American nurse Merlin Pambuan finally walked out of the hospital as a recovered patient after an eight-month battle against COVID-19.
From nurse to patient: For about four decades, Pambuan has been caring for critically ill patients in the intensive care unit of St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, California, where she was admitted after she got infected with COVID-19 in May, Reuters reports.
- While in the ICU, she was sedated, fed through a tube and placed on a ventilator to breathe.
- During her ordeal, her condition would deteriorate to a point in which doctors would discuss end-of-life options with her family.
- In early September, she eventually awoke and regained the ability to breathe on her own again but was still unable to stand.
- Pambuan managed to get through weeks of therapy, enabling her to celebrate her 66th birthday in the rehabilitation ward in late October.
Second life: On the day of her discharge on Monday, Pambuan was greeted with applause and celebration from colleagues as she walked through the hospital lobby with the specialists who took care of her in the past months.
- While Pambuan was still connected to supplementary oxygen, it was her insistence that she made her exit without the aid of a wheelchair or walker.
- Shantell, 33, who stayed by her mother’s bedside as she was recovering from the disease, was instrumental in providing Pambuan the encouragement she needed to regain her mobility.
- “It’s going to be very difficult for me,” said Pambuan, who will continue her recuperation from home. “But I have to accept it, that I’m going to be on oxygen for a while and slow down a little bit.”
- Pulmonary and critical care specialist Maged Tanios, Pambuan’s colleague at St. Mary, said her recovery was extra special as she is part of the hospital’s extended “family.”