COVID-19 survivor meets nurse who cared for her

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - The first ventilated COVID-19 patient at Elkhart General Hospital was reunited Friday with one of the nurses who helped save her life.

16 News Now was there to learn more about the special bond these two share.

It was an emotional reunion between a woman who nearly faced death and the nurse that comforted her through it all.

“I was always hoping that there would be a day where I could give her a hug and say thank you, even if we have to protect ourselves,” COVID-19 survivor Tami Slaven said.

Slaven tested positive for COVID-19 back in March and was only given a 13% chance of survival.

But that didn't stop those at Elkhart General Hospital from doing everything they could to save her.

“Her story was so different from all of the other patients that I’ve had, and it’s because I hadn’t taken care of a COVID patient yet,” Critical Care RN Jennifer Swain said.

When it came time for Slaven to be intubated, Swain was there for her when her family couldn’t be.

“I just grabbed her hand and was like, don’t let go of me until I go to sleep. You didn’t have anybody else, so she was it, and she played that role perfectly. She was the most supportive, calming, I mean, she was right there at my bedside. She stopped thinking medical and was just being there for somebody who needed it,” Slaven said.

“Really I just had to comfort her by saying, we are going to do everything we can to get you better, and I don’t know what that’s going to entail yet, but we are going to try our best,” Swain said.

Between the hard work of those caring of her and her own determination, Slaven started down the road to recovery.

“I wanted the highlights to be on the real heros. I’m not the hero. I’m the survivor. They’re the real heros,” Slaven said.

And for Swain, stories like Slaven’s is what gives her hope.

“To see her actually standing and walking and looking good and looking healthy is just amazing,” Swain said.

“Thank you isn’t enough, but highlighting what they did to help save my life means everything to me,” Slaven said.

Slaven says she hopes her story can inspire others and shed light on how dangerous the virus can be.

For more on her journey, click here.

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