East Texas woman experiencing severe, long-term effects following COVID-19 diagnosis

East Texas woman experiencing severe, long-term effects following COVID-19 diagnosis
Uyria Kemp (Source: Uyria Kemp)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Prior to her COVID-19 diagnosis, Uyria Kemp says she was a healthy 24-year-old with no serious pre-existing conditions. She’s been in the hospital for about a month with severe, long-term effects from the virus.

She first tested positive in early August. She says her symptoms were mild at first, but that changed as time went on.

“August the 19th, I was sitting on the couch, I had been sitting on the couch all day long and just watching TV, doing nothing, sitting at home like I had been, and I had got up to go to the restroom and when I went to stand up, I noticed that I was very staggery, very unbalanced,” Kemp said.

From there, Uyria says her condition worsened. She was taken to UT Health East Texas in Tyler after her heart rate increased and started hallucinating. Once in the hospital, she says she was tested for COVID-19.

“My test actually came back negative for COVID, but I had the COVID antibodies, so my body started to fight off all antibodies, including my healthy ones,” Kemp said.

While in the hospital, Uyria says she started having trouble breathing and was put on a ventilator.

“I had to tell my mom goodbye, tell my family goodbye while they put me on the ventilator,” Kemp said. She says her breathing troubles subsided and she was taken off the ventilator, but her condition was still far from better. She’s undergone plasmapheresis ─ the removal of the plasma portion of the blood where the antibodies are located. She’s also undergoing Rituximab infusions, often used to treat some forms of cancer and help the immune system.

“I’ve had seizures since I’ve been here. I have clonus, what they call, which is where your brain is not signaling your body correctly, so you just shake, and it looks like Parkinson’s pretty much. This is all just from COVID. This all stemmed from me having COVID,” Kemp said.

The CDC says the higher a person’s age, the more likely they are to be hospitalized or die of COVID-19. They’re still studying how people are impacted long term, but in Uyria’s case, her experience with the virus and its effects are rare for her age.

“Please take it serious because it can go from I don’t feel bad right now and 20 minutes later you are fighting for your life,” Kemp said.

A fundraiser has been set up to help Uyria. To donate, click here.

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