After spending 57 days battling COVID-19, 14-year-old Augustina Roja is sharing a message with the world. Miraculously, Roja has now been allowed to leave the hospital and join her family at home, but there was a long road that led to this particularly happy occasion.
In an interview with People, Roja urged the world to start taking COVID-19 seriously. In June, a then-13-year-old Roja started experiencing headaches and difficulty breathing. “I thought I was sick, but I thought nothing of COVID. For me, I didn’t think it was real,” she told People.
14-Year-Old Shares Important Message After Beating COVID-19
However, when she visited the hospital the coronavirus test she was given came back positive. The result of the test shocked Roja’s father as well.
Despite being a healthy teenager and not having any underlying conditions, Roja was told she needed to get to Children’s Hospital of Orange County “right away,” People reports. “I was nervous,” the father said of that moment in time. “It was kind of a surprise… We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Roja was diagnosed with respiratory distress and was initially put on a high-flow nasal cannula, which is “a device that provides supplemental oxygen to patients.” However, as her health continued to decline Roja was given a non-invasive breathing support mask called Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure.
Eventually, Roja progress to a breathing tube and then a ventilator. She even endured two surgeries during her 8-week hospital stay. However, the 14-year-old admitted she doesn’t remember any of it.
“I don’t remember anything — what happened, how I got there. It just happened.” However, her father remembers those 57 days very clearly. “I was very worried and confused,” he told People. “I didn’t know if she would make it or not.”
And even though Roja doesn’t remember, the father believes his daughter heard everything he said to her while she was sedated. “I know she heard everything. I told her, ‘You’re gonna be okay, nothing is gonna happen to you. You’re gonna be with us again.'”
It was once Roja was given nitric oxide and after doctors “positioned on her stomach, a technique referred to as proning,” that the teen began showing signs of improvement weeks after contracting COVID-19. From there, the teen underwent a tracheotomy which allowed doctors to wean her off sedation and ventilator support, according to People.
Thankfully, Roja began to regain consciousness. “When I first woke up, [I just remember that] I wanted my dad and mom there.” It was a moment that “surprised” everyone her father said.
After she was released from the hospital, Roja began rehab to relearn how to do the most basic of things like sitting up on her own. Roja admitted that she couldn’t wait to leave the hospital and get back to “normal life.” Three days after turning 14 years old, Roja had finished rehab and was able to go home for the first time in 87 days, three months after contracting COVID-19.
“I’m always wearing my mask now,” the teen told People. “I didn’t believe it was real but people should protect themselves because COVID-19 is not a joke. Little kids or adults can get sick. People need to wear masks and protect everyone and everything.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.