Teen recovers from COVID-19 at NCH, returns home

A tale of survival: A teenager in Southwest Florida contracted the coronavirus and had to be hospitalized for two months. At one point, she had life-saving measures performed on her. Now, she’s heading home.

You could feel the emotion Monday, as Chantel Salas walked out of the NCH hospital after recovering from COVID-19 — a more than 50-day stay treatment at different hospitals.

Those who cared for her at NCH told us she made it to this day because of her incredible will to live.

“I love all these people,” Salas said. “They’re basically like family to me now.”

Rose Hernandez is family. She’s not a health worker though. She’s Salas’ grandmother, the woman who raised her. But Hernandez couldn’t be with her granddaughter during the long days and nights she spent in the hospital.

“I can’t wait to see her because I miss her so much,” Hernandez said. “That’s my baby girl, right there.”

Salas became very sick, so doctors transferred her to Orlando. There, she says is where her dad had given her the gift of hope, despite losing his fight at the time.

“I just remember my dad being there,” Salas said. “My dad passed away, but that’s it. So knowing that he was there, I knew I was safe, and everything was going to be OK.”

She was right. Salas became well enough to return to NCH and well enough to go home.

“Every single organ in her body, it was affected by COVID-19,” said Dr. Deborah Lopez, the director of the pediatric intensive unit at NCH. “And she’s quite a miracle to the fact that she will hopefully be walking out of here with no complication.”

“I’ve been through a lot and see like I lost a month of my life,” Salas said.

“She’s a fighter,” Hernandez said. “She’s a fighter, my baby.”

Salas gets to return home to her family and leaves NCH knowing she made an extended one.

“Her attitude is incredible,” Lopez said. “She’s an inspiration to the staff, to the community, to everybody that comes in contact with her.”

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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