'I had to fight': COVID-19 sends Ontario woman on 87-day battle for survival
TORONTO -- Eighty-seven days after first being admitted to hospital to battle COVID-19, Jessie Jacobs was finally discharged Thursday morning.
As the 76-year-old emerged from the hospital, accompanied by the applause of health care workers, the Ontario woman was greeted by family members who haven’t seen her since April.
When she found out she was cleared for discharge, after spending the last three months fighting for her life, she was “nervous,” she told CTV News.
“But coming out and seeing all the people and wondering what was going on -- and [realizing] it was for me -- was unbelievable.”
Jacobs tested positive for COVID-19 on April 8. She was given oxygen in hospital, but as her condition worsened, it was clear more drastic measures needed to be taken.
With her children on FaceTime with her, she agreed to be intubated and put on a ventilator.
“I had to fight,” she said. “I just could not see myself giving in. I’m not like that. I’m not that kind of a person. So I did fight.”
The 76-year-old was on the ventilator, unable to communicate with her family at all, for a month.
“It’s been scary,” Lisa Frank, her daughter, told CTV News. “We thought we were going to lose her multiple times.”
Jacobs was finally taken off the breathing machine on Mother’s Day, and was able to surprise her kids with a call from the ICU.
When her daughter picked up, she said her mother greeted her with “Hi, Lias!” – an inside joke in the family.
“I used to spell my name wrong, that’s why,” Lisa said. “And there she was, sitting there.”
But a month on life support had taken a toll on Jacobs. She was in hospital for another seven weeks, and had to re-learn how to walk.
In Canada, more than 68,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive. In Ontario alone, more than 30,000 have recovered.
The exact toll that COVID-19 takes on survivors in the long-term is still not fully known, but those who were hit harder by the virus and needed intensive care — like Jacobs — can experience side-effects even after the infection clears. One such issue noted is a condition called post-intensive care syndrome, which can include persistent muscle weakness and memory issues.
Jacobs’ family calls her recovery a miracle.
“It was a roll of a dice, almost,” her son, Mike Jacobs, told CTV News.
“We’ve been waiting for this day," Lisa said. "It’s a dream come true.”
And as restrictions loosen around the country, her family is urging people to keep taking precautions and following public health guidelines.
“You could be 15, 30 or 40, and you could breeze it,” Mike said. “But if you get it and you give [COVID-19] to someone older, they may not.”
Jacobs -- despite being in a high-risk category due to her age -- did manage to pull through. Three months ago, she promised her family she’d fight. And today, she kept her word.