Surviving COVID-19: Linda's Story of Hope and Determination

In early 2020, 70-year-old Linda embarked on an exhilarating two-week cruise along the Nile River in Egypt. Linda never imagined this voyage would leave her fighting for her life in the ICU at Mackenzie Health.

Linda Lam with her son, and his hands on her shoulders

When Linda returned to Richmond Hill from Egypt, she felt unusually tired. An avid traveller, Linda thought perhaps she was getting too old to be travelling. When she couldn’t shake her jet lag and she developed a persistent cough, Linda called her son, Kevin.

Kevin took his mom to Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital where she was tested for COVID-19. Linda was sent home to self-isolate and a few short days later was notified of her positive result. When
she started experiencing shortness of breath, Kevin did not waste any time.

“I felt very scared,” explains Kevin. “My mom has underlying health conditions and her age immediately put her at a greater risk. I knew I had to take her back to Mackenzie Health and hope for the best.”

After arriving at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital, Linda was promptly admitted to the ICU as her health was declining rapidly. Linda became one of the first COVID-19 patients in Ontario to be intubated and connected to a ventilator. At Mackenzie Health, Linda received exceptional care from nurses and physicians – including Dr. Danny Chen, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Mackenzie Health.

As Kevin recounts, “Every call from the hospital seemed to bring bad news. Once my mom was put into a medically induced coma, we started preparing for the worst. As a last resort, Dr. Chen said there was a chance the experimental drug remdesivir could help save our mom’s life. We knew we had to say yes.”

Dr. Chen’s expertise and decision making along with the extraordinary measures taken by Linda’s care team in the ICU ultimately saved her life. A few days after her first dose of remdesivir, Linda began to show signs of improvement and, after seven long weeks in the ICU, Linda woke up. She soon began breathing on her own again and had two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests. Linda was then transferred out of the ICU to a medical unit – a
moment she and the entire Mackenzie Health team won’t forget any time soon.

“It was the best day ever,” says Samantha McLachlan, patient care manager for the ICU. “Our whole team was clapping and cheering, and she was clapping along with us and smiling up at us. It was such a beautiful moment.”

Linda’s family is happy to report that she has now embarked on her next great journey: the long road to recovery.

“My mom survived COVID-19 because of the amazing team of health care workers at Mackenzie Health,” says Kevin. “We will always be grateful.”