Aussie teen on ventilator feared she would die after getting Covid

Source: AAP

Alone in a Melbourne hospital, her lungs filling with fluid and the coughing relentless, 17-year-old Saela thought she was going to die.

Covid-19 had ripped through her Broadmeadows family after they were exposed to the virus through Saela's baby sister's daycare.

At one stage Saela was the youngest Covid-19 patient in the state on a ventilator, her condition critical.

"I was so scared, I was screaming and I thought I was going to die and then I felt nothing, they had put me to sleep. They woke me up nine days later," Saela told reporters at the Victorian government coronavirus press conference on Wednesday.

When she was woken, she had a tube in her neck to help her breathe and could not move.

"I just stared at the ceiling and I was alone. There was so much machines around me, so many wires and needles, so much beeping and everything made me scared."

All up, eight members of the family contracted Covid-19 - her parents, three siblings and grandparents.

Saela was not eligible to be vaccinated when she fell ill and neither were her siblings. Only her grandparents were fully vaccinated while her parents had received their first shots.

When a doctor called to let mother Michelle know Saela was heading to ICU to be ventilated, he recommended she not talk to her daughter, as the Year 11 student was too distressed.

"I remember speaking to the doctor and I said, 'Please. You need to save my baby.' And he said, 'Michelle, I promise you we are doing everything that we can.' He said, 'At this moment, she is the sickest person in this hospital'," Michelle recalled.

Then her husband started coughing up blood and was struggling to breathe, lift his head or keep his eyes open. He was also taken to hospital by ambulance.

"I started to grieve. I thought someone was going to die and it was much easier for me to prepare for a loss than to hope," Michelle said.

It was a lonely experience as no one could come and help her because of the virus and she could not visit her husband and daughter in hospital, she added.

The family is sharing their story in the hope it motivates fellow Victorians to get vaccinated.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who phoned Michelle during the ordeal, said Saela's story would do more to influence the vaccine hesitant than he ever could.

"It's an emotional story, because these are lives completely up-ended by this virus," he said.

While the family is getting better, Michelle is still grappling with the mental toll from the virus and Saela is seeing a physiotherapist to get her strength back, and must live with a scar on her neck.

"I'm just glad to have my 'Mini-Me' back," Michelle said.