Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Texas mom reunites with kids after being hospitalized more than a year with COVID-19

“I don't care if I wake up and I don't have an arm or leg. As long as I'm here and I'm able to be with my kids, just please let me live.”

Story at a glance

  • A woman from Texas who spent over a year in a hospital with COVID-19 has been discharged.

  • Jazmin Kirkland, 34, first became infected in August of 2021.

  • The ordeal highlights the toll COVID-19 can take on healthy, young individuals. 

Relaxed COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month may signal a new, less acute phase of the pandemic is underway for some. 

But for one family in Texas, the toll of the novel coronavirus hit close to home this week when a mother who had been hospitalized for over a year was discharged.

The woman, 34-year-old Jazmin Kirkland, spent over 180 days on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine — which pumps blood outside the body and reintroduces oxygen-filled blood back to tissues — before being reunited with her three children on August 9, 2022. 

According to Kirkland, her two-year-old son didn’t recognize her when she walked through the door as he had never seen her outside a hospital setting.

“He was 1 when I went into the hospital and he sees the hospital as, that’s mom’s house,” she said in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America.

“He was confused. He didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t in my PJs or my hospital gown.”  Kirkland’s other children are ages 7 and 10. 

In August 2021, Kirkland, her husband, and their two youngest tested positive for COVID-19 on a vacation to South Carolina. At the time of infection, the couple had not been vaccinated.

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For a portion of time in the hospital, Kirkland was in a medically-induced coma and was under consideration for a lung transplant, but then was no longer eligible for one after doctors thought her antibodies would reject the organ. 

Over time on the ECMO machine, her lungs improved and after eight months she was removed from the device. Typically, patients are hooked up to ECMO for just two to four weeks. A few months later she was removed from a ventilator.

“Even if it’s just one person that can find her story to say like, hey, someone overcame this to give them hope that they can do it too then that’s what I was hoping others would take away from this as well,” Kirkland’s husband Kody told a Texas NBC affiliate station

“I don’t care if I wake up and I don’t have an arm or leg. As long as I’m here and I’m able to be with my kids, just please let me live,” Jazmin recounted thinking. 

The relaxed CDC guidance comes as COVID-19 cases in the United States have been steadily falling throughout the month of August

However, Kirkland’s story illustrates the dire toll the disease can still take, as she described herself as a healthy individual with no pre-existing conditions at the time of infection. 

Throughout her illness, Kirkland was transferred to multiple hospitals and acute care centers, with most of her time spent at Texoma Medical Center in Denison where she was placed on ECMO. 

“It’s hard on the body because a lot of times when you’re looking at patients going on ECMO, they’re the sickest of the sick,” Brandon Davis, the cardiovascular intensive care unit manager at Texoma Medical Center told ABC. “A lot of times, they have to be fully sedated for an extended period of time which, in that time, you get muscle degeneration, so you’re having to work to build their muscles, not only the injured organs.”

After her ordeal, Kirkland had to re-learn how to eat and walk. “So for someone to come as far as she did, it’s really amazing,” Davis added.

After witnessing the hard work of nurses and therapists throughout his wife’s time in the hospital, Kody Kirkland said the professionals are not paid enough. At one point, Kody even refused to sign a “Do not resuscitate” order because he kept believing his wife would overcome the illness.

Jazmin still receives oxygen and therapy now at home, but is expected to completely recover.