‘A Christmas Miracle’; 70-year-old grandmother returns home for holidays after months of battling COVID-19

Local woman recovers after 74 days in hospital

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services wants you to take a moment to think about the “who” behind the rising COVID-19 cases numbers across the state.

They are your neighbors, friends, and family members battling the coronavirus.

That holds true for one Matthews family who’s welcoming home their grandmother after a months-long battle with COVID-19.

“If anyone dismisses this disease, believe me, I can tell you. It is a terrible, terrible disease,” says Laura Johannesen.

It was a diagnosis she feared.

In October - at 70 years old - Laura found out she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“It just knocks the stuffings out of you,” says Laura.

The virus would quickly put her in the hospital.

“They finally put me in the ICU because I wasn’t breathing,” said Laura.

“I realized I was dying.”

Daughter, Kimmie, says it’s a reality no one ever wants for their parents.

“It was not easy at all,” says Kimmie. “I spent many days with I call it like my insides were ‘tangled Christmas lights’ feeling and a lot of tears.”

Laura admits at moments, her faith was tested. But through the overwhelming support of family, friends and the attentive care of the medical team at Atrium Hospital in Monroe, she persevered.

“There were many times I wanted to give up Believe me many times, it would have been easier,” said Laura.

Laura’s husband and Laura’s 90-year-old mother also got the coronavirus. However, neither of them had severe symptoms and did not require hospitalization.

“I watched a lot of TV in the hospital. And you know, those commercials would come on with that song, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’. And I would just sit there and sob,” said Laura.

“Every single one of the nurses that came in would say, you’re going to be home for Christmas. I know it.”

After a 74-day battle in the hospital, Laura pulled through.

“Sure enough, here I am surrounded by my loved ones,” said Laura.

Laura says she continued to get stronger everyday.

“I just really couldn’t believe it,” says Kimmie. “I just it’s just such a miracle.”

For families who have someone battling this virus in the hospital or battling it at home and they can’t see them for the holidays, Laura says this is her message to them:

“I think without hope none of us are going to make it so we have to have that hope that things will get better. Better and we will get through this together.”

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