Mom fights COVID-19 while her sister treats her at Loma Linda hospital

A Southern California mother hospitalized with COVID-19 is fighting to survive the virus at the same hospital she and her sister work at.
LOMA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- Thirty-one-year-old Janet Santibanez has COVID-19.

The certified nursing assistant is now fighting for her life at Loma Linda University Medical Center where she and her oldest sister, Maribel, both work.

"It is really hard for Maribel, as an ICU nurse, to see my little sister and not be able to touch her in a sisterly way because she needs to be strong," said Veronica Santibanez, Janet and Maribel's sister.

Veronica said Janet began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 last week. When breathing got difficult, she went to the emergency room.

"I strongly feel she is hanging on because she knows she is going to see my sister every day," Veronica said. "She is not alone. She has somebody there with her."

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She said Janet, who is a single mother of a 9-year-girl, is going to be given an experimental medication and be put on the waiting list for convalescent plasma. But there is a lengthy waiting list and extremely short supply for the plasma, which comes from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

"The explosive increase in requests for convalescent plasma across our area has left really virtually all of us blood centers and academic centers collecting this product short. In other words, we don't have enough to meet the current need," said Dr. Joe Chaffin, chief medical officer at LifeStream Blood Bank.

Santibanez's family is pleading for all those who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate. Not only for her, but for all the patients currently battling the virus.

They said they know the 31-year-old's daughter is the main reason she is fighting so hard to survive.

"This is not where her story ends," said Veronica Santibanez, "She needs to continue to live, and she is fighting every day for her life to see her little girl."
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