After more than three months on a ventilator, one Alabama woman is thankful to be able to celebrate the holidays after winning her battle against COVID-19.

Tracy Bean, 48, is still regaining her strength, according to Robin DeMonia, with Direct Communications, which represents Noland Hospital, in Tuscaloosa, where Bean was hospitalized.

"While Ms. Bean is still regaining her physical strength, doctors say her recovery is remarkable – and her family considers it the best holiday gift ever," DeMonia said.

Bean was able to be with her family for Christmas, a gathering her family was not sure would happen.

“It’s definitely a miracle,” said Bean’s daughter, Haley Thomas. “She is a survivor and nothing short of a miracle.”

DeMonia said the ordeal began in July. Bean was not vaccinated but she had taken precautions such as avoiding crowds and wearing masks when venturing out. Despite precautions, Bean, Thomas, and their husbands all became ill with COVID-19.

Bean developed pneumonia and was eventually rushed to the hospital, where treatment began.

“I thought I was getting better,” Bean said. “I could get out of bed, go the bathroom, eat, feed myself. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on a breathing machine. I had lost three months.”

“This was a very severe case, a critical case of COVID,” said Dr. Fabian Salinas, the pulmonologist who supervised Ms. Bean’s care throughout her illness. “In the second wave, we were seeing a lot of younger, sicker patients, and it seemed to be more lethal and aggressive.”

During her illness, Salinas attempted to get Bean transferred to an ECMO facility for treatment with a heart/lung bypass machine that DCH does not have. Due to her specific condition, Bean was ruled out as a candidate for the treatment.

“She was facing a lot of adversity,” Salinas said. “We continued to aggressively take care of her.”

On Sept. 23, Bean was transferred to Noland Hospital Tuscaloosa, the long-term acute care facility in DCH. She was still in critical condition, still on a ventilator, still on 100% oxygen and was one of the most extreme cases at the facility.

“We definitely had to make some adjustments because of the severity of her condition,” said Cassie Clark, Director of Clinical Services for Noland Health Services.

After coming to and getting off of oxygen, Bean was able to talk just as before. She FaceTimed with her family. She said she felt disoriented at times, but that is expected after being asleep for three months. Bean also learned she would soon be a grandmother.

“My kids have always been my life, my Number one priority," said Bean. "But I wanted grandkids before I ever had kids. I think God was saying, ‘I’m giving you the grandbaby you always wanted,’ and that motivated me to keep fighting.”

Bean is continuing recovery at Glen Haven Health and Rehabilitation. She is still unable to stand or walk but is motivated to continue her journey.

“I should have been gone months ago."

"The doctors keep telling me that,” Bean said. “I’m extremely grateful and blessed that God kept me here.”

Salinas gives credit for Ms. Bean’s survival to the whole team at DCH and Noland.

“In the view of many, they think a university hospital would have been the place for her,” Salinas said. “But she found her survival here. We’re so proud that we helped pull her through.”

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