MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee woman who reportedly spent 45 days on a ventilator after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in July is now in need of a double-lung transplant, according to a local news station. Carmen Lerma, a community organizer, said in a Facebook post that her battle with coronavirus began when she passed out on July 16.
“When I woke up, I recall the ICU doctors say to me that I must have someone watching over me from above because 31% oxygen in my body was for me to be in a coma… I spent 45 days in ICU with a ventilator on my face all day and night in order to breathe,” she wrote on Oct. 6.
Lerma said she lost 40 pounds because she had trouble eating and developed blisters and sores on her face from the medical equipment.
“I was told several times that they needed to intubate me, but I refused because I wanted to do this alone,” she wrote. “After a long time and after facing so many difficult challenges, I have to say, I am coronavirus free, I beat the virus so I feel lucky… I’ve been lucky… however, the amount of damage caused by the virus has been even more harmful.”
Lerma said that at the time of the post, she had been hospitalized for three months and was relearning how to breathe and walk again, and that taking just a few steps “feels as if I ran a marathon.”
“After over a month here in rehab I was told this past week that they will not be able to do much more because both my lungs are very damaged,” Lerma wrote. “Of course I’m sad especially to hear this because I’m working so hard to get through this and there’s always something.”
Lerma said she was transferred to UW Madison and she was told that she will be receiving a double lung transplant.
She told WISN that while she doesn’t have any underlying health conditions, she did quick smoking several years ago.
She closed her Facebook post by asking for prayers and urging others to wear their mask, a message which she echoed to WISN.
“Put your mask on,” she told the news outlet. “Maybe you don’t care, but protect your parents, your kids, your grandparents, because they are the ones that are going to battle the most.”
The local community has responded by organizing several fundraisers on her behalf to help cover the expense of travel and lodging while she recovers.