NORTHUMBERLAND, Pa. — When talking to Keish Pares of Northumberland, it's hard not to notice the scars on her neck and it's not something she hides.
The 27-year-old wife and mother's life changed drastically in early October when she got COVID-19.
"My body hurts and I have the chills and I don't feel good," Pares said.
Keish says at first everything was fine. But she kept getting sicker as the days progressed. Nearly two weeks into her symptoms, family members called an ambulance.
"While I was walking out of my room in the hallway I collapsed. They checked my oxygen and said if we don't take her she's going to die," Pares said.
Keish went to Geisinger on October 14.
"After that, I don't remember until November 22. That's when I regained consciousness from my coma," Pares said.
Keish was told she might not survive and if she did she may need a lung transplant. She was treated with ECMO, which is a high-tech machine that took the place of her lungs. Geisinger doctors say this treatment is reserved for the sickest COVID patients.
"So essentially we're doing the work of the lung artificially outside the body, which will allow the lungs to rest in hopes that they will heal," Geisinger ECMO Specialist Mathew Bauer said.
Keish was not vaccinated against COVID and did not believe in it.
"I was just going off of social media and I thought it can't be that bad," Pares said.
Keish did not have any preexisting conditions and now has long-hauler symptoms.
"Pneumonia, the flu, a cold could take me back to the hospital and I could die because my lungs are not that strong," Pares said.
Her doctors told her if she had been vaccinated her sickness would not have been as bad.
"If a doctor is telling you get the vaccine and they got it and they're fine, do it. They saved my life. If it wasn't for them I could be laying in a bed or in a cemetery," Pares said.
Keish says her life has changed in big ways since COVID-19. She feels lucky to be alive.
"I'm actually thankful I didn't need a transplant, I can survive off of my lungs. But if I get the flu or something it might tamper that, so the future is kind of unknown for me," Pares said.
Keish says she will be eligible to get the COVID vaccine at the end of February and she is looking forward to it.
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