When COVID-19 put Ruthie Ramirez on a ventilator, she was in the fight of her life for the sake of her kids.
“They’re the reason I get up in the morning,” Ramirez said. “I sat there and thought, I'm all they have. I have to keep pushing.”
Ramirez, a single mother and employee-turned-patient at the Miami Cancer Institute, tested positive for COVID-19 on April 7 and was immediately rushed to the ICU. For weeks her condition only worsened.
“I had never felt so many emotions at one time,” Ramirez said. “I was so worried about what would happen to my kids if I wasn’t around and wanted to do whatever I could to get back to them.”
With limited options, Ramirez’s physician, Dr. Guenther Koehne, suggested an experimental but FDA approved mesenchymal stem cell treatment. After giving her sister power of attorney, the mom of two was all in and hoped for the best.
It has not been proven that the experimental treatment was responsible for Ramirez's recovery, but she said “As soon as it was administered, I started improving. The treatment saved my life and I'm so grateful to the entire medical staff.”
Mesenchymal stem cells come from the lining of the umbilical cord and “are known for its ability to reduce severe lung inflammation,” the Miami Cancer Institute said in a statement to ABC News. The treatment is very new, but has seen some positive results in the four patients who’ve received it at the hospital. Ramirez is now COVID-19 negative and another patient is out of the ICU, albeit still receiving treatment.
Ramirez spent nearly a month in the ICU of the hospital adjoining Miami Cancer Institute, where she works as a patient scheduling coordinator, but on Friday she officially beat COVID-19 and it was time to go home. Daughter Sofia, 8, and son Isaac, 5, we’re waiting outside the hospital to welcome their mom with open arms.
“My body was exhausted, but it felt so good,” Ramirez said. “Just seeing them was awesome.”
Ramirez’s sister Christina and several co-workers also came with signs and cheers, all celebrating Ramirez's hospital discharge while social distancing.
“They made sure my kids were OK, brought them food, helped my sister take care of them -- my work friends are my family, too,” Ramirez said. “Just to know you're supported 100% from supervisors, doctors and nurses. For them to take their time and care about you, it means a lot.”