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Giving Back Blog

  • Writer's pictureAscension Illinois Foundation

COVID-19 Survivor Saved by Ascension Mercy Family


Tatiana (third from left) with her “Ascension Mercy family,” Jen, Lisa and Maggie (from left), who helped her pull through after she nearly died from COVID-19.

It was April 2, 2020. Tatiana had COVID-19 and couldn’t breathe.

She was rushed from the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center — which helps people transition from a correctional institution back into the community — to the Emergency Room at Ascension Mercy in Aurora.

“I was drowning in my own breath. I heard, ‘ICU Code Blue,’ that’s all I remember,” Tatiana said.

For the next 27 days, she was intubated and in a coma. She suffered a stroke. Twice caregivers tried to take out the breathing tube. Both times Tatiana’s lungs collapsed.

“I went and said my goodbyes. From outside her door, I cried. I cried,” said Magdalene (Maggie) Ladas, PharmD, outpatient pharmacy manager at Ascension Mercy.

On April 29, 2020, the same day her ventilator was going to be disconnected and her parents started planning a memorial service for her, Tatiana unexpectedly woke up.

“The good Lord heard our prayers,” said Maggie.

A Community Partnership Creates a Lifetime Impact

Tatiana and Maggie first met in February 2019 when Tatiana began coming to Ascension Mercy’s outpatient pharmacy to pick up her prescription medications. Through a partnership, the hospital’s outpatient pharmacy provides medication for all residents of the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center.

“We clicked,” said Tatiana. “It was like we knew each other for years. I felt like we were sisters from other parents.”

Of Tatiana, Maggie said, “She’s just a beautiful person, inside and out. So full of life and laughter. She fills the room when she walks in.”

In between her monthly visits to the pharmacy, Tatiana started calling Maggie to catch up. The two, along with the entire pharmacy team, became friends. Tatiana said it never mattered what was going on in the world or with the pandemic, every time she saw her friends at Ascension Mercy, they greeted her with kind words, a smile and a hug. No one there treated her like an inmate or a criminal; they treated her like a human being.

“I wasn’t alone,” Tatiana said. “I had people who cared, and that means a lot when you’re in that position — when you’re by yourself. You come across people who stay for a season or stay for a lifetime. That’s what I found there: people who made an impact on me for a lifetime.”

Maggie said that’s how she cares for all her patients: like they’re an extension of her family.

“That’s just what I do. That’s who I am,” she said. “All of us here in the pharmacy embrace them all.”

Support for Tatiana from Her Ascension Mercy Team

When Tatiana got sick with COVID-19, Maggie and her team knew she needed support. They kept as close to her as COVID-19 precautions would allow. While her physicians connected virtually with her family across the country, Maggie and her team joined in supporting and cheering on Tatiana: They checked in on her. They put signs on her hospital room window. They prayed for her.

“I was very scared for her,” said Maggie. “I hate to say it, she was at the end of life. Thank God she came through it.”

When Tatiana emerged from her coma, she said, “The best moment was waking up to the notes Maggie, Lisa and Jen taped to the glass! I smiled and cried.”

Because of the stroke, Tatiana couldn’t move her legs or left arm. When she was discharged from the hospital, she had to learn to walk again. She has permanent lung damage and today wears a foot brace. The U.S. military veteran said she won’t let any of this knock her down.

“I’m coming along a year later, and I’m still standing,” she said. “COVID-19 took a lot of people’s lives. I got lucky.”

“I Say Thank You Every Day.”

Tatiana attributes her survival and recovery to her physicians and nurses, Maggie and her pharmacy team at Ascension Mercy.

“It’s all of them that saved me,” she said. “Without people like that, you wouldn’t be able to get the care you get. It’s not about money. You cannot put a price tag on people’s lives. It’s about morals and values.”

The day Tatiana left the ICU, everyone on the floor applauded her.

“I was crying,” Tatiana said. “It was an experience I will never, ever forget. I still get choked up about it. My life changed that day.”

Life is short, she said, and she stopped taking it for granted. Every negative or angry feeling, and desire for vengeance she had struggled with, disappeared.

“They care. That’s the one thing I’ve seen about Ascension — people who care,” she said. “I say thank you every day.”

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Emily Dagostino

Director, Communications

Ascension Illinois Foundation

708-829-4167

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