ANN ARBOR (WXYZ) — Andrea Bell and her husband have seen their baby girl, Fiona, go through a lot. When Andrea was 17 weeks pregnant, Fiona was diagnosed with spina bifida.
"I mean, the girl's had like six brain surgeries in her short little life and COVID is what took her out," Andrea said. "It was really devastating to our family."
Andrea and her husband moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor to be close to the doctors at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital because of the spina bifida, and that's just where Fiona was rushed two months ago when she suddenly became ill.
Fiona tested positive for COVID, despite all of the precautions her parents had taken to keep her safe.
"I think that there's really been a misconception that this won't impact children and I almost lost my daughter to it," said Andrea, who spent 41 days in the hospital with Fiona with much of that time being spent in isolation.
Andrea is now on a mission to encourage people to continue to wear masks in buildings and get vaccinated.
"I can't stress enough how small efforts from people in your communities can literally save people's lives," she said. "That's what's been our underlying message throughout this entire hellish nightmare."
As opportunities to talk about what happened arise, Andrea said she's feeling a responsibility to share what happened to her family.
"We very much almost lost her," she said.
Doctors placed Fiona on a ventilator and used ECMO to aid in her recovery.
Fiona, now 18 months old, has lost a considerable amount of her strength while hospitalized. She resumes physical therapy this week.