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'I could've died' Baltimore woman says she was 'lucky' to survive COVID-19 after two weeks in the hospital

Posted at 12:02 AM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 00:27:57-04

A Baltimore woman says if she would have waited to go to the hospital any longer, the doctor told her she would have died from COVID-19.

Kabria Newkirk, 26, spent two weeks at the University of Baltimore Washington Medical Center after she says she tested positive for the virus. She says she first knew something was wrong with her two weeks ago.

“I couldn’t breathe," she said. "Walk up the steps, couldn't breathe. Walk to my car, couldn't breathe.”

She says she first felt exhausted. She then got a fever and chills over the next couple of days. She was getting worse day by day.

The 26-year-old has asthma and decided to call her doctor who recommended she get tested for the virus. Newkirk went to a drive-thru testing facility in Baltimore County.

“They did an x-ray and they said based on the x-ray I was showing signs that i could be positive for COVID-19," she said.

An ambulance transported Newkirk to UM BWMC where test results confirmed she had COVID-19. But at that point, she was still getting worse. The virus began attacking her lungs.

“My lungs weren't able to operate on their own," she said. "I couldn't absorb the oxygen that was coming in my body. They had me hooked up to oxygen around the clock"

Two days after she went to the hospital, she was taken to the ICU and put on a ventilator because her lungs were failing. The oxygen machines weren't helping. Newkirk said the doctor told her she needed to be taken to the ICU before "it was too late."

"She said your're lucky that you came in when you did because if you didn't we wouldn't have been able to do the procedure," Newkirk said. “I could've died. If i didn't make it to the hospital when i did, I wouldn't be here today.”

Newkirk was released on Wednesday. Her family was waiting on her outside--emotional--after a long-awaited reunion. They greeted her with signs that said "I survived COVID-19."

“I fought really really hard while i was in there,” she said.

As apart of her recovery, she had to practice on her breathing and she did physical therapy. Newkirk is still using an oxygen tank, while she self-quarantines at home.

Newkirk says she's feeling grateful for life after her two week bout with the deadly virus. She's hoping through her experience people who still aren't taking the virus seriously, will have a change of heart for the sake of protecting others.

"You are not doing it for yourself, you should be doing it for everybody around you," she said. "There are people around you, who have weaker immune systems, respiratory or underlying illnesses, that you don’t know about and they can become sick and end up in the hospital."