Vic teen feared she would die of COVID-19

By Kaitlyn Offer
Saela (left) and her mother Michelle say the COVID-19 pandemic has been terrifying for their family. (AAP)

As 17-year-old Saela lay alone in a Melbourne hospital she could not stop coughing, her lungs were filling with fluid and she thought she was going to die.

COVID-19 had ripped through her large family, in the suburb of Broadmeadows, and as her condition worsened, she was taken to hospital by ambulance.

At one point she was the youngest person in the state on a ventilator because of the virus.

"I was so scared, I was screaming and I thought I was going to die and then I felt nothing, they had put me to sleep. They woke me up nine days later," Saela told reporters at the Victorian government coronavirus press conference on Wednesday.

Her condition had become critical, her lungs filling with fluid.

When she was woken, she had a tube in her neck to help her breath and she could not move.

"I just stared at the ceiling and I was alone. There was so much machines around me, so many wires and needles, so much beeping and everything made me scared."

Saela was not eligible to be vaccinated when she fell ill, exposed to the deadly virus from her baby sister's daycare.

All up, eight members of her family contracted COVID-19 - her parents, three siblings and grandparents.

"When I got the call from the doctor to say that Saela's health had deteriorated so rapidly and was getting transferred to ICU and put on a ventilator I was in shock. I thought how? Literally I just talked to her two hours ago," her mother Michelle said.

A doctor recommended she not talk to her daughter, as she was too distressed.

"I remember speaking to the doctor and I said, 'Please. You need to save my baby.' And he said, 'Michelle, I promise you we are doing everything that we can.' He said, 'At this moment, she is the sickest person in this hospital'," Michelle recalled.

Then her husband started coughing up blood, was struggling to breath, lift his head or keep his eyes open.

He was also taken to hospital by ambulance.

"I started to grieve. I thought someone was going to die and it was much easier for me to prepare for a loss than to hope," Michelle said.

The mother said it was a lonely experience because no one could come and help you because of the virus.

Michelle and Saela are sharing their story in the hope their fellow Victorians to get vaccinated.

While the family is getting better, Michelle said she was still grappling with the mental toll of the virus and Saela was seeing a physio to get her strength back and must live with a scar on her neck.

"I'm just glad to have my Mini Me back," Michelle said.


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