67-year-old COVID-19 survivor in Philadelphia returns home after 102 days

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Honks and cheers rang out from 11th and Oxford streets in North Philadelphia Tuesday evening as friends and family members celebrated COVID-19 survivor Vanessa Cassidy's return home after 102 days in the hospital and rehab centers.

Vanessa, 67, was hospitalized on March 19. She spent more than a month on a ventilator and a medically-induced coma, according to her son Michael.

"I am feeling elated and I feel so good to be home," said Vanessa.

Friends and family members weren't sure they'd ever see this day.

Michael, who could never visit his mother at the hospital, said doctors told him various treatments weren't working.

"So they say, 'we want to try this last thing, if it don't work, ain't nothing else we could do,'" Michael recalled.

Fortunately, that last treatment did work.

The retired city health department employee has lasting effects, including a nerve disorder, called dropped wrist, and she lost blood circulation in her thumb.

She said the toughest part of her recovery, however, was not having visitors.

Because of her wrist and hand problems, Vanessa said it took her a while to be able to use her phone to communicate.

"So now I use my knuckles. But I made a way. I had to talk to people!" Vanessa said.

During the welcome home celebration, Vanessa got to see those people; their smiles were hidden behind masks but the love was visible in their eyes.

Her loved ones are simply overjoyed to have her home.

"I really, really, really prayed extra, extra hard for her to come home and God answered my prayers. He answered all our prayers," said Vanessa's friend Robert Davis.

Sherry Budd, Vanessa's niece, became emotional as she spoke about her aunt's recovery.

"It's been a long hard battle but God is good. God is good all the time," said Sherry.

Vanessa has a long road ahead of her. She must have a thumb amputated and she'll need months of physical and occupational therapy.

Vanessa shared a piece of advice for the rest of us: "(COVID-19 is) not a joke. It's for real. For those who think this is not for real, walk in my shoes."
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