Covid patient in weeks-long coma wakes up on the day her life support was due to be pulled

Doctors had said Bettina Lerman, 69, wouldn’t wake up because of irreversible damage to lungs. Her son says ‘she is a miracle’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Friday 19 November 2021 10:52
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‘This is like a medical miracle,’ son after mother wakes up from coma

A 69-year-old woman who spent more than a month on a ventilator at a hospital in Maine after contracting Covid-19 shocked her family when she woke up from a coma on the very day doctors were supposed to pull the plug on her life support.

Bettina Lerman’s family had also made funeral arrangements for her, donated many of her possessions and cancelled her lease in Tavares, Florida.

They were picking her casket and gravestone late last month when a phone call from a doctor at the Maine Medical Centre in Portland told them that she had woken up.

Her son Andrew Lerman told WMTW he received a call from the doctor who told him to come over to the hospital right away. When he asked what was wrong, the doctor told him: “Well, there’s nothing wrong. Your mother woke up.”

“I literally dropped the phone. I was like, what? I mean because we were supposed to be terminating life support that day,” he said.

Ms Lerman had not responded to treatment for weeks. She also had other health conditions such as diabetes and heart problems, and had suffered a heart attack and had quadruple bypass surgery a couple of years ago, CNN reported.

She had started showing Covid symptoms in early September, and was put on a ventilator on 21 September. She woke up from her coma on 29 October.

Though she lives in Florida with her son, Ms Lerman was visiting Maine to help care for her husband, who reportedly has stage 4 cancer, when she fell sick.

The mother, son and father were all unvaccinated. However, Mr Lerman now says that he will get vaccinated as soon as possible.

In the US, only about 59 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 so far.

Mr Lerman said: “We had a family meeting with the hospital because my mother wasn’t waking up. No matter what they [did], they couldn’t get her to wake up. They said that her lungs are completely destroyed. There’s irreversible damage  —  that it’s just not going to happen.”

He added that his mother is religious and so are a lot of her friends who have been praying for her. “They can’t explain it on the medical side,” he said. “Maybe it’s on the religious side. I’m not that religious, but I’m starting to believe that there’s something that helped her. I don’t know.”

Ms Lerman has started getting physical therapy to help her recover some muscle strength.

“She knows where she is, who she is — she’s as sharp as a tack. Usually, when somebody comes out of a coma like that, they say that the patients have delirium where they’re very confused. From day one, she hasn’t experienced any of that,” Mr Lerman said.

He added: “She’s a miracle.”

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