Surviving COVID-19: Guyanese woman who moved to US a year ago, spent 71 days on ventilator, 19 days in coma


A 29-year-old Guyanese nursing assistant living in the United States has said she will carry the scars of COVID-19 with her for the rest of her life. The young woman, who is also a diabetic patient, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April and six months later she is still on the road to recovery.

In an interview with the News Room, Yelena Doodnauth explained how it remains a challenge to walk and to use her hands properly.

“I was so swollen, I couldn’t even lift my hands off the bed.

“Yes it was very difficult for me and not just me for my family – my husband my parents. Its’ being a very trying time and what kept them was prayers. My family fasted and prayed and I am here today by the grace of god,” Doodnauth said.

Yelena before being diagnosed with COVID-19

She said it is a miracle that she is alive today after spending 71 days on a ventilator and 19 days in a coma. Doctors called her family four times while she was hospitalized at the St Barnabas Hospital in the US to prepare for the worst. Even then, they did not give up on her and she believes this is why she is still alive today.

The young woman worked at the East Haven Nursing Home in New York and believed this is when she contracted the deadly disease.

Originally from Non Pariel on the East Coast of Demerara, Doodnauth migrated to the US a year ago. She also worked a nursing assistant while in Guyana.

Yelena Doodnauth was on a ventilator for 71 days and also spent 19 days in a coma

While Doodnauth lives with her husband and his parents, she was the only one who tested positive.
“It’s amazing; I don’t know how my husband who was with me all the time tested negative.”

After she was discharged from the hospital, she then started rehab in June at the Bainsbridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

“Now I am able to walk and raise my hands. I am not there 100% as yet because I am still having challenges going up the stairs and down but I am getting there,” Doodnauth said.

The young woman said the very traumatic experience has made her appreciate her life and family more.

“COVID-19 is very serious. I could have died. I still have scars from COVID-19 and people are still not taking it serious and I want to say that you should. COVID-19 is very real; don’t just wear a face mask because someone tells you to wear it, wear it to protect yourself.”

Yelena during her early rehab days

Doodnauth now have scars under her neck from the tracheal tube inserted for her to be able to breathe.
“It still have a little piece more to close and this mark on my nose is when they had the (nasogastric) NG tube and the tape caused it and I even had a tube that went straight to my stomach.”

Doodnauth’s hands and fingers have also not returned to full function.

For Doodnauth, this is not an experience she will ever forget but she hopes within the coming months she can get back to life as normal.

“This is not something I will be able to forget but I should be able to lead a normal life and I am still having therapy,” Doodnauth said.

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