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95-Year-Old Toronto Great-Grandma Beats COVID-19 After More Than A Month In Hospital

In the words of the hospital, "What a legend."

Good things can still happen.

Rosemary McCabe, 95, was released on Friday from North York General Hospital in Toronto after finally beating COVID-19. She had been hospitalized for 32 days.

When McCabe was first admitted, her family was really scared, her grandson Andrew Spencer told HuffPost Canada.

“We didn’t think there was a high probability she would get through it,” he said. “We know she’s an extremely resilient person, as one has to be, I suppose, just to make it to 95. But we were realists, and to be honest, our number one concern was that she was going to pass without someone by her side.”

People over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19. They also may be more likely to exhibit “atypical” symptoms, like sleeping more, eating less, and acting confused or apathetic.

Rosemary McCabe in a recent photo provided by her grandson Andrew Spencer.
Rosemary McCabe in a recent photo provided by her grandson Andrew Spencer.

While McCabe was in the hospital, the hospital’s nurses facilitated conversations with her family, Spencer said. She has a huge family: Spencer’s mom is the oldest of McCabe’s nine children. He’s one of her 33 grandchildren, and she also has 16 great-grandchildren. So she received a lot of calls, which the hospital’s staff helped put through.

“The support staff was just absolutely incredible,” Spencer said. “They made us feel very connected with my grandma, despite the fact that we couldn’t visit her personally.”

There were a few nights when they thought the end was near. The whole family was reassured when the hospital told them that if things got really dire, one or two of McCabe’s children would be allowed in her room to keep her company.

But “thankfully, we never got to that stage,” he said.

‘Nobody had to make that terrible decision’

The doctors at North York General were able to avoid the nightmarish scenarios that forced doctors in Italy and elsewhere to make strategic decisions about where to put their limited resources — essentially, having to decide which patients got access to ventilators, and which patients they had to let die.

“We in Toronto and Canada have done a really nice job of flattening the curve, so she had the resources available to her,” Spencer said. “Nobody had to make that terrible decision: ‘Do I try to save this 95-year-old or do I try to save this 45-year-old?’ So my grandma was really lucky.”

Now that Rosemary is out of the hospital, he said she’s doing great: “She says she feels better now than she did before she contracted COVID-19.”

She didn’t feel up to being interviewed personally, he said, but she gave him her blessing to tell her story.

“She wants to share that she had the most loving, amazing care, and she wanted her story to be shared if it can provide other people with optimism who might be in a similar situation.”

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