Grandmother of seven, breast cancer survivor beats extreme case of COVID-19

LOWER PROVIDENCE TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A 66-year-old Montgomery County resident is breathing a sigh of relief now that she's been discharged from the hospital after beating COVID-19.

Karen Corbo of Lower Providence Township said she was admitted to the hospital at the end of March and tested positive for COVID-19. She is a breast cancer survivor, mother of three and grandmother of seven.

"Probably within 24 hours I got to the point where I couldn't lift my head off the pillow," said Corbo. "I just felt so horrible."

Her son Mike Corbo said he and other family members were devastated as their mother fought the virus alone in Paoli Hospital.

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"We hopped in the car a little later that morning, we just drove to Paoli and we sat out in the parking lot so we could feel as if we were getting as close as possible to her," said Corbo.

Karen's three children FaceTimed her frequently even though she was sedated. However, things took a turn for the worse and doctors sent her to Jefferson Hospital by helicopter.

She needed to go on an ECMO machine, which adds oxygen to her blood.

"We thought 'this was it' because you see with the ventilator, the mortality rates were high and then you see with the ECMO, the mortality rates were even higher and you're like, 'Oh my God this has to work, there's nothing else," said Mike Corbo.

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For the next two and half weeks, Karen slowly improved and, on April 29th, she was discharged from the hospital.

"Be careful because this isn't anything to fool around with, and I can't believe how hard it hit me," said Corbo.

Her children surprised her with a "KARE-avan," with dozens of friends and family surprising her and welcoming her home.

"It was just amazing," said her son Mike. "To see my mom light up, it was the first time I had seen her like that since before she was sick."

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