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Lake Butler woman shares her near-death experience after contracting COVID-19

43-year-old is back home but has a long road to recovery

Lake Butler woman shares her near-death experience after contracting COVID-19
Lake Butler woman shares her near-death experience after contracting COVID-19

A Lake Butler woman has returned home following her near-death experience after she contracted COVID-19.

“I am 43 years old. Never in my life have I ever felt so close to death,” Ganeene Starling told News4Jax on Tuesday about her time in the hospital.

Starling said her family got COVID-19 because her husband, who is a captain at a prison in Lake Butler, was infected at work.

She was treated at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. She said the emergency room was packed and staff appeared to be overwhelmed as she spent a lot of time alone.

“One of the female nurses made a comment regarding that she was the only one who could help me at the moment,” Starling said. “I was told that I probably would die. My husband was called at like 3 o’clock in the morning, saying I probably would not live through the night.”

Starling has since returned home. She said she didn’t know if she would make it, but she had to pull through for her eight children and five grandchildren.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida have increased. Dr. Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease specialist, said the delta variant is causing more people to get sicker quicker.

“We’re talking about a variant that’s 225% more transmissible than the original COVID-19 infection,” Reza said. “People who are infected with this variant produce about 1,000 times more viral copies in their respiratory tract.”

Reza said the COVID-19 shots do offer protection against the variant. He said studies show Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against it for people who’ve had both doses.

Starling said she was not vaccinated.

“I will be honest with you, when this comes around, I thought the vaccine hasn’t been around long enough. I was leery of it,” she said. “But now, looking back, I wish to God I would had.”

Despite being home, Starling said she has a long road to recover. She said she is looking at the possibility of long-term lung damage and her doctor also told her that she could face blood clots.


About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.