New COVID-19 treatment saves local great-grandmother just in time for Christmas

Susan Forney is calling a new treatment for COVID-19 a miracle. She doesn’t believe she'd be alive this Christmas, without the help of it and her doctor at Kelsey Seybold Clinic.

Susan has a lot to live for. The native Houstonian has six children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandkids. She’s excited she actually gets to celebrate her 92nd birthday on Christmas Eve. Just last month, she wasn’t sure she’d make it to this milestone.

"I thought I would die," Susan exclaims!

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When Susan was diagnosed with COVID-19, she thought she’d be able to fight it on her own at home, with the help of her family, delivering meals and checking in on her.

"It was rough for her. She had a mild fever, but the muscle aches and headaches were debilitating," explains her son, Larry. He and her family became gravely concerned when she took a turn for the worse. "She was clearly fading that last day," states Larry.

He called her doctor at Kelsey Seybold Clinic. Dr. Tony Lin immediately offered to administer a new treatment in the fight against COVID-19 called Bamlanivimab. It had just received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization. It was perfect timing for Susan.

"We knew we were going to get some doses, but we did not know when it was going to come in. On that Friday when the Forney’s called, we were fortunate to have had our hospital partner, Baylor St. Luke's, give us several doses! Susan is my third or fourth patient at Kelsey to receive this," states Dr. Lin. He says all of them have done well.

"Having the medicine is obviously a good thing, but having  Susan’s family as part of the team, with the infusion nurses, the facility to take care of her, the pharmacist in the background, some of those physicians were there waiting in case anything needed to be done. They all stayed until eight o'clock on a Friday night. Then all through the weekend, Larry texted me to update me on her vital signs, her o2 saturation rates, her temperature, and we followed along with her progress," explains Dr. Lin.

Dr. Lin says the drug, Bamlanivimab is something called a monoclonal antibody.

"For a normal person, they may take sometimes up to two weeks to produce the immune response and what this does is give the body instant relief, with the antibodies that synthetically may boost the immune system, and while the natural immune system takes over at a later time," says Dr. Lin.

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Susan shows her sense of humor about the drug, with the hard to pronounce name, that she credits for saving her life. "I will tell you what the infusion nurses call it - bamma-lamma-bang-bang," she laughs.

"No, we don't know how to say it," Dr. Lin also laughs.

It does spell out a lot of smiles! Dr. Lin, Susan, and her family are all thankful that this new tool in the fight against COVID-19 came about, just in time to not only keep her out of the hospital, but to also help save her life.

"This came just in time, and I know it's God's intervention that we're able to really do this and have the supplies in place. We are waiting for more supplies from the state vendor, and we hope we'll be able to help our patients going forward," states Dr. Lin.

"This was a miracle for me because I was extremely ill and 24 hours later I was better. It’s amazing. It was just a miraculous intervention of Dr. Lin and Kelsey Seybold, and I appreciate it. I credit it with the fact that I'm going to make this because I'm not sure I could have. I'm really not sure I would have made it," reflects Susan.

She did make it and now she has a lot more living to do. Susan started working in local libraries 55-years ago and to this day, she still volunteers at city and church libraries.

While Kelsey-Seybold was one of the first to receive the treatment, more than 300 hospitals in Texas will be able to offer it because of its success rates in studies.

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