Metro Atlanta woman says controversial drug helped her overcome COVID-19

Woman says controversial drug helped her overcome COVID-19

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A Henry County woman says a controversial treatment for COVID-19 helped her beat the virus.

Kimberly Sims says she remembers doctors admitting her to Piedmont Henry Hospital. The next thing she remembers was 26 days later.

“My sister said all of a sudden I stopped talking and then they took me to ICU,” Sims told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson.

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Her family and doctors would tell her that she spent those 26 days on a ventilator fighting for her life after contracting COVID-19.

“I was on a ventilator. I had a feeding tube," Sims said. "They had to do dialysis because ... my kidneys were failing.” Her only underlying medical condition was high blood pressure.

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Sims was one of the early cases of COVID-19. Doctors gave her the experimental drug hydroxychloroquine as her condition worsened.

“They started it before my test results came back," she told Johnson. "They were pretty sure I had COVID."

A new study published Friday found that hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients can actually lead to a higher risk of death, but in March, doctors didn't know nearly as much about the anti-malaria drug as they do now.

Sims is still thankful they tried it with her and says it likely played a role in her recovery.

“Whoever they are, I’m so grateful for whatever they did to save my life, because I know a lot of people who are on the ventilator just didn’t make it,” Sims said.

Dr. Danny Branstetter is the medical director of infection prevention at Wellstar.

“Any medication that we’re using is an experimental treatment,” Branstetter said, adding that it will take more time and experimentation to find the treatment with the least risk.

“Medications are being tried, but just because it works for one person does not mean it’s the perfect fit for everyone else,” Branstetter said.

Some 51 days later, Sims is out of the hospital and back home in Locust Grove but she isn't any closer to learning how she became infected.

“I don’t know where I contracted it, and that’s the scary part about it,” Sims said.

Johnson went out to J.P. Moseley Park in Henry County on Friday as several hundred people took advantage of free testing at a pop-up site, the first in the county.

The free testing was for anyone. Two weeks ago, the Henry County Board of Commissioners asked the state for more testing sites to address a rise in cases.

“I think everybody needs to be tested whether you have symptoms or not, because you could be the person who is affecting someone else and not even know about it,” Sims said.

It will take more widespread testing for Sims to feel comfortable leaving her house anytime soon.

For now, she said the battle she faced is one she doesn't wish on anyone else.

“Some people don’t take it seriously. I’m a living witness of what can happen,” she said. “God is still in the miracle business because I’m one of his miracles.”