OAK FOREST, Illinois -- A 52-year-old cancer survivor and mom in Illinois got a double lung transplant after a severe case of COVID-19, despite being vaccinated.
"This is not going to stop me because I have a long life ahead of me. I have my children, my husband, my grandkids," said Laura Bratlien.
A wife, mother and grandmother, she beat cancer and then battled through months of hospitalization after contracting COVID-19. She spoke Thursday from her hospital bed while recovering from a double lung transplant.
Bratlien said her battle with COVID started in late April, a month after she got the vaccine.
"It turned very quickly from a sore throat to the point where I couldn't breathe," she said. "It got to the point where I couldn't even talk enough to call an ambulance."
She was hospitalized in May and said doctors told her the virus ripped through her lungs so bad, she became a candidate for a double lung transplant.
"I got put [on] what's called a bow, which means two tubes on this side, two tubes on this side," she said, pointing to each side.
Thankfully, Northwestern Hospital found her a match quickly and Bratlien underwent the transplant August 1, saving her life.
"God smiled at me and my family because we have a future. Now, we have another chance," said Bratlien.
She said her family was her main motivation.
"They've been so supportive. I've seen a side of my husband so supportive that I haven't seen before," she said.
"She's a survivor, she's a superhero, she's just our inspiration. All of our inspiration of how bad things can get and how you can overcome them. She's just a truly amazing person," said her husband Scott Bratlien.
And while she has a long road of recovery ahead, including learning how to walk again, she said she didn't make it this far to let others gamble with their lives and COVID.
"It's not going away just because people want to wish it away," she said. "People that don't want to believe in COVID or don't want to wear a mask are selfish. Stop being selfish and put the mask on. Do it for love of your children, for love of your family."
Bratlien hopes her story and her struggle will save others from heartbreak and the pain she's endured.
"We need to come together as humanity, as one big tribe and realize, we want to save ourselves. We want to save humanity. Our families, our children, everybody wants that. Every, every person, every color, every nationality," Bratlien said.