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ICU nurse walks out of hospital after being hospitalized eight months with COVID-19

A veteran ICU nurse left a hospital this week after being treated there for eight months for COVID-19.

Merlin Pambuan, 66, was on a ventilator for four months at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif., after being sedated in May, The Washington Post reported.

Nurses and doctors cheered on Monday as Pambuan walked down the halls of St. Mary, where she has worked for the past 40 years.

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“I’m thankful,” she told Reuters. “This is my second life.” 

The nurse contracted COVID-19 after treating infected patients in the spring.  

According to her doctor, Pambuan reportedly came close to dying "multiple times."

“At multiple times, she was very near death,” her doctor, Maged Tanios, told Reuters. “I would say this happened at least a half-dozen times.”

Tanios, a pulmonary and critical care specialist, reportedly said he was not aware of other hospital staff who were admitted to the ICU for coronavirus infections. Still, health care providers have the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their environment, prompting officials to make them the first priority for vaccines.

Pambuan said she has no memory of the four months she spent hooked up to the breathing machine from early May to early September, according to the news service, which added that she said she could not feel her extremities following the deep sedation.

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She spent the past several months  recovering and undergoing physical and respiratory rehabilitation.

To others like her suffering from COVID-19, she tells people to not "lose hope."

"Just fight. Fight, because look at me, you know. I’m going home and I’m walking," Pambuan said, according to Reuters.