Canton grandmother credits controversial drug to her COVID-19 recovery

It's a drug made to treat malaria, but one Canton grandmother says it helped her fight COVID-19. The 68-year-old said she was struggling to breathe, but then, she was prescribed Hydroxychloroquine.

"I thought I had the virus and was just going to die," said Cramer.

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Cramer said the entire month of March deeply tested her strength. First a car accident, then, she got sick. "I thought it was from all the airbags that I was feeling yucky, being sore, achy," said Cramer.

Days after the accident, Cramer started feeling worse, so she called her doctor. "I contacted her again and said, 'Something is really wrong, I can't breathe, and it's really hurting, and I'm gurgling, and I'm wheezing,' but i just didn't want to go to the hospital," Cramer said.

Cramer tested positive for COVID-19 and self-isolated at home, but she says the pain was overwhelming.

"My lung felt like nothing was going in it, it was closed," she said.

She called her doctor again, desperate for help, and was prescribed Hydroxychloroquine, a drug typically used to treat malaria.

"I'm so glad that my doctor said, 'Ok we're gonna try this drug because were talking four weeks, not one or two weeks, and I was worried I was going to be one of those statistics," she said.

 Cramer said her doctor and pharmacist went over the risks because she has some slight pre-existing health concerns, and they were worried this treatment may not work. Her pharmacist instructed her to head to the emergency room within a few hours of her first dose if her condition did not improve. 

Thankfully, within hours of her first dose, Cramer said she felt like a different person. "It's been amazing," said Cramer. "For the first time in four weeks, I can breathe," she said.

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A pulmonologist at Piedmont Hospital says this treatment, while FDA approved for treating other medical issues, should be used only on a case by case basis for COVID-19. Her team is only administering it to patients in a hospital setting.i

"Unfortunately, the data just isn't there yet," said Dr. Amy Case, a pulmonary and critical medicine physician at Piedmont Hospital. "It's not known if this is going to work or not," Case.

For Cramer, it did work, and she hopes more people will ask their doctor for this option before they wind up in the hospital.

"It's our only hope, and I believe it saves lives," said Cramer. "I really believe it does save lives because I would be on oxygen or on a ventilator...I was close," said Cramer.

Cramer said her husband has had zero symptoms of COVID-19, despite being in the same house with her this entire time. Because of that, she said he's getting tested to see if he already built up an immunity to it or just had a mild case so he can donate plasma to help sick patients in the future.

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