Covid survivor who spent more than month in a coma shares her story

Michigan's latest coronavirus numbers show just how long and how hard the pandemic has hit the state. Today brought the report of its one-millionth COVID-19 case. This comes after nearly 6,100 people tested positive for the virus over the past two days. 

About 67 percent of eligible people have received at least one vaccine dose and 57 percent are fully vaccinated. State and federal officials were hoping 70 percent of eligible Americans would be fully vaccinated. Heather Elizabeth Brown is one of those cases - and she spoke with us to share her story of survival.

Brown first got sick with COVID-19 in April of 2020. She was very ill and went to the hospital twice the second time. She found out she had Covid-induced pneumonia

"I was in the hospital for maybe 24 hours - maybe just over a full day, when they told me my lungs were failing - and that the only hope they had to save my life was to put me on a ventilator," she said.

Brown fell into a coma and remained in that state, and on a ventilator for 31 days.

FOX 2: "When you woke up, is that when you realized your ordeal?"

"Absolutely, when I first woke up it took a couple of days for me to kind of get my bearings and understand what had happened," she said. "It was absolutely mindblowing that all that time had passed and that I had been in a coma all that time. (I had) a lot of challenges after being in a coma and I had almost lost my life a couple of times."

Brown's story is one of now more than a million cases in Michigan, a grim milestone.

"It has been more than a year and a half of just difficulty, of lots and lots of very sick people," said Dr. Matthew Sims, Beaumont. "Doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals are trying to do everything they can."

Covid survivor Heather Elizabeth Brown, now - and then.

Covid survivor Heather Elizabeth Brown, now - and then. 

Sims, the director of infectious disease research for Beaumont Health, has been in the trenches this entire time and trying to stop the spread of the Coronavirus and keep people alive.

There is more than 20,700 confirmed deaths in the state. Mutations a big concern with the Delta variant running rampant.

"If Delta hadn’t come around, we might be in a very different place than we are now," he said. "The vaccine seemed to work great, the CDC said 'Okay, if you are vaccinated you don’t need to wear a mask because the vaccine will be your protection.' Then Delta came and the vaccine does not seem to work quite as well.  And more time goes by and maybe the antibodies are starting to wain a little, and we are talking about booster shots.

"Now we really talk about - at this point in the pandemic - we really need a layered defense."

Dr. Sims said he subscribes to the Swiss cheese principle. The metaphor means each layer of protection we have against Covid has a hole in it, and therefore we need a multilayered approach: vaccination, masks, hand washing, social distancing when possible, are all still important.