Laura Bratlien contracted COVID-19 even though she was vaccinated.
A cancer survivor, she tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized on Mother's Day. The Oak Forest grandmother had recently started a new arthritis drug, and doctors believe that lowered her immunity.
With blood clots in her crystalizing lungs and two different types of pneumonia, Bratlien's prognosis was grim.
"He told me you’re going to have a dismal short life, and whatever life you have will be dismal," she said. "They said this to me June 1st."
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But Bratlien, her husband and sister were all determined to fight.
They applied to transplant programs, including at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
On Aug. 1, the family received the news they prayed for: Bratlien had been accepted for a double lung transplant.
"We would have never thought," stated Carla Sanchez-Gonzales, Bratlien's sister. "Today's Mexican Independence Day. She would be at home with us, gone five months. And now all of the sudden today, what a wonderful gift from God."
The family simply believes her survival was a miracle.
Despite rising medical bills, they hope to encourage others to get vaccinated and become organ doctors.
"Every moment of my life, I will cherish this, and I will honor that person by making the best of my lie that I possibly can, because this is a gift," Bratlien said.