24-year old North Richland Hills woman becomes ‘Miracle Patient’

North Richland Hills, TX – Paola Castillo, 24, North Richland Hills, is going home after being hospitalized for 79 days at Medical City North Hills with COVID-19. She arrived in the emergency department with difficulty breathing, a cough and fever on April 27.

Her road to recovery is far from over after discharge, but the staff are celebrating her fighting spirit and remarkable recovery against dismal odds. Castillo was close to death during her nearly 3-month stay at the hospital.

Castillo said the symptoms began six days before she arrived at Medical City North Hills. After testing positive for coronavirus, she was unable to manage on her own and sought emergency care. Her symptoms worsened rapidly and she was placed on a ventilator within the first 24 hours at Medical City North Hills.

She spent more than a month in the ICU and on a ventilator where she said her husband and mother were told it was “touch and go.” In the ICU while on the ventilator, medications kept her sedated and calm and she recalls only a few interactions with staff in what she thought were dreams, including one she will never forget.

“I saw a light,” says Castillo while recuperating at Medical City North Hills. “That light was God telling me it was time to wake up.”

After slowly being weaned from the ventilator, Castillo found that many of her physical abilities had atrophied, such as the ability to talk, swallow and walk. Nurses, therapists and other staff worked to provide compassionate care and meaningful connections to keep her motivated and positive during rehabilitation. Caregivers even helped Castillo venture outside to feel the rain after 67 days inside the hospital. She took her first steps since being admitted on July 3.

“What we are doing right now is at the heart of what it is to be human. What the care team has done for even this one patient is a mark of a life well lived and a purpose served,” says Andrea Morian, director of Rehabilitation Services at Medical City North Hills. “This is a single patient. The impact our teams have on so many more right now is overwhelming.”

Castillo has since proven negative for the virus, but retains a very positive outlook on her long-term recovery and is grateful to the Medical City North Hills team that saved her life.