Pittsburgh woman paralyzed, in coma after COVID-19 diagnosis learning how to walk again

PITTSBURGH — Kristian Mudd spent four months in the hospital and over 60 days on a ventilator. She was in a coma and paralyzed. Now recovering, Mudd is sharing her journey with Channel 11.

Mudd said she began feeling the symptoms of COVID-19 back in May. Days later she was in the hospital and soon after, Mudd was placed on a ventilator.

That’s where the then 29-year-old would remain for the next 62 days.

“Next thing I remember, I’m waking up and it’s August. That is all I can remember,” said Mudd.

During that time, Mudd was also paralyzed and in a coma. She was placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, a device used for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“They shut my organs and limbs down. At one point in this process, all of my organs were failing,” said Mudd.

Mudd’s family, unable to be by her bedside due to COVID protocols, prayed for her to heal and, according to Mudd’s mother, Tamara, so did countless others across the world. But in early July, the Mudd family received the dreaded call: Kristian only had two hours to live.

“They gave up on her and called the family in. They told us at the most she had two days to live. I said ‘No, I don’t believe that,’ because basically what that entails is us allowing them to take her off the ventilator. We told them ‘No, don’t take her off, you keep her on. Do what you got to do to keep her here,” said Tamara Mudd.

A few weeks later, to the amazement of many, Mudd woke up. Doctors even gave her a new nickname.

“The miracle girl at AGH and at West Penn, super girl,” Mudd told Channel 11.

The now 30-year-old is out of the hospital but not out of the woods just yet. The disease has left scars on Mudd’s body. She also has over a year of rehab ahead of her.

“I don’t have full use of my hands. I have to learn how to walk again, learning to feed myself, wash up, brush my teeth, " said Mudd.

Mudd told Channel 11 she is thankful to be alive and she is constantly counting her blessings.

“Thirty is a milestone. The fact that I have many more years, it’s OK that I missed one,” said Mudd. “There could have been a totally different outcome to this. I am grateful I get to see my nieces and nephews grow up. I am grateful to get to see my parents grow older and they didn’t have to bury a child.”

Mudd also said her outlook on the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine has changed. Once against the vaccine, Mudd is now an advocate.

“I was so anti-vaccine at the beginning because I didn’t believe it could happen to me, and once it happened to me, it kind of humbled me, and soon as I was allowed, I got the vaccine,” said Mudd. “If anything is out there to help us not go through what I went through, then it’s something that you should get.”

“I believe prayer, God brought her through, but we have to take this thing seriously and not haphazardly act like it’s not here,” said Tamara Mudd.