HOUSTON - This Thanksgiving holiday, one mother says she’s happy to be alive and at home with her kids. Chrystal Guttierez was released from HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake on Tuesday after spending the last five months battling complications from COVID-19.
The 36-year-old caught the virus while she was pregnant with her fourth child this summer.
In June, Chrystal was less than a month away from her due date, when she started having shortness of breath and chest congestion.
"Doctor comes back in and says your chest x-ray shows fluid around your lungs, which is one of the signs of COVID," Chrystal said.
Chrystal and her husband, Rafael, tested positive for Coronavirus. Two days later, doctors ordered an emergency C-section as her condition worsened.
"The doctor comes in and he says you know what your airways not getting any better, your oxygen keeps going down. We're going to go ahead and take the baby. Rafael had tested positive already so he couldn't be in there with me. I had to deliver my baby alone," Chrystal said.
Although baby Matthew was born healthy and COVID-free, Chrystal continued to deteriorate.
During the 152 days spent in the hospital, Chrystal was intubated and on a ventilator for most of the time. Doctors told her family she had a 20-30% chance of survival.
"Every day was a fight for her life," said Rafael.
"Both my lungs were failing. I had multiple treatments, operations, and blood transfusions. I had a tracheotomy. I had bilateral chest tubes. I was hallucinating, I thought there were snakes in the room. I was losing my mind thinking I couldn't handle it. I told them, let me die at home. Just send me home," Chrystal said.
But just as the Guttierez’s were beginning to lose hope, something miraculous happened during a FaceTime call.
"I was going to hang up. She blurted it out loud, 'I love you out' of nowhere. The nurses there said that was the first time that they'd heard her say anything," Rafael said.
For now – Chrystal still has to rely on an oxygen tank to her help breathe and use a wheelchair to get around.
But no matter what it takes, Chrystal says being at home this Thanksgiving is the biggest blessing of all.
"Now to be able to hold my very large child here. It is simply amazing to be home with my family," said Chrystal.
Rafael has taken a leave of absence at his job to be a full-time caretaker for Chrystal and their four kids.
The couple says they don't want to take any more time for granted. They're now working on renewing their vows and planning the dream beach wedding they never had.