25-year-old COVID-19 survivor walks out of rehab after being pronounced brain dead


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — On Tuesday, 25-year-old Tionna Hairston did something she thought she would never be able to do: she walked out of rehab after fighting COVID-19.

Hairston and her mother, Stacey Peatross, were both diagnosed in May.

“She took care of me when I was sick. She had hardly any symptoms,” said Peatross.

As Hairston cared for her mom, her own health took a turn for the worse.

“Strokes. She had a heart attack and had to be revived from that. She had to have an implanted defibrillator placed,” said Dr. James McLean, the medical director at Novant Health Rehabilitation Hospital.

In June, doctors said Hairston stopped breathing for 30 minutes and was pronounced brain dead.

“They thought that we should take her off of life support because she had no hope for life,” Peatross said. “She wouldn’t have any quality of life at all.”

Her family and friends, and even some strangers, held multiple prayer circles in hopes she would get better, and she did. She was in rehab for more than a month, learning how to eat, dress and stand on her own again.

She was released from a North Carolina hospital on Monday to a crowd of cheering friends, family and doctors.

“Thank you guys for being there for me and supporting me,” Hairston told the crowd of family and medical staff.

When she stood up in front of her loved ones and doctors, it brought tears to their eyes.

“To see her rise up out of that chair and take steps when nobody thought she would ever be able to walk again … She said, ‘Mommy, I’m gonna walk,’” her mom said.

Hairston is back at home and is continuing her rehabilitation there.

Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.

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