24-Year-Old Woman Who Beat Coronavirus After 79 Days Wishes She Wore a Mask

Paola Castillo was discharged from the hospital after a nearly three-month battle with COVID-19

A woman from Texas was finally released from the hospital after a nearly three-month battle with coronavirus — and she hopes others heed her warning about the importance of wearing a mask.

Paola Castillo was admitted to the emergency room at Medical City North Hills hospital on April 27, days after she first came down with coronavirus-related symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing and a fever, the facility said in a news release published Wednesday.

The 24-year-old was quickly placed on a ventilator and spent more than a month in Medical City's intensive care unit. But Castillo's health continued to deteriorate, reaching the point where she fell terrifyingly "close to death," the hospital said.

As doctors fought to save her life, Castillo was kept on sedatives. Today, she only has a few brief memories of the experience.

"I saw a light," she recalled of one of those memories. "That light was God telling me it was time to wake up."

Castillo eventually made a recovery, only to find out she could no longer easily walk, talk or swallow. She entered rehabilitation to rebuild her physical strength, and on July 3, took her first steps since being admitted to the facility.

"What we are doing right now is at the heart of what it is to be human," Andrea Morian, director of Rehabilitation Services at Medical City North Hills, said in the statement. "What the care team has done for even this one patient is a mark of a life well lived and a purpose served."

Paola Castillo

"This is a single patient," Morian continued. "The impact our teams have on so many more right now is overwhelming."

Castillo was finally discharged from Medical City on July 15, 79 days after she arrived. While speaking to KTVT, she admitted the deadly virus didn't worry her before it completely upended her life.

"Maybe if I would have just listened and worn a mask, just a simple thing, I would have avoided all this," she told the news station.

"I work at a bank, I’m always around people, but I was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’ Never did I think I’d catch it," Castillo said.

Wearing masks has become a topic of heated debate in the country four months after states began adopting social-distancing restrictions to slow the spread of the disease. Research has shown cloth face coverings help in public settings and when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On July 4, a 37-year-old Ohio Army veteran died of the coronavirus two months after he criticized the use of face masks in a social media post.

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Coronavirus cases have continued to rise around the country. As of Friday, the United States has seen more than 3.6 million cases and 138,753 deaths attributed to the disease, according to a New York Times' database.

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