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Winchester single mother battles COVID-19; could need a double lung transplant

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:23 PM EDT
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WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - A Winchester mother could end up needing a double lung transplant following her COVID-19 diagnosis.

38-year-old Monica Hughbanks has been out of work for months because of her illness.

Her loved ones, including one of her best friends, Leslie Muzic-Chappell, want people to know that the pandemic isn’t over yet.

“She’s just one of the best people you’ll ever meet,” said Muzic-Chappell.

She and Hughbanks have been apart for the last two months. Hughbanks, called ‘Mo’ by her friends, has been sick with COVID-19 since then.

“She woke up the first of February, tight chest, not feeling well, knew there was something wrong,” Muzic-Chappell said. “The nurse at the drive through testing site told her to go straight to the ER, that’s how bad she sounded.”

The 38-year-old single mother of four went to the emergency room at the Clark Regional Medical Center. She was admitted to the ICU, and stayed there for more than two weeks.

“She was transferred by ambulance to St. Elizabeth’s [Florence Hospital.] That was the first place that could get her in there to do the treatment they wanted to try,” Muzic-Chappell said.

At that hospital, Hughbanks’ lung kept collapsing. When they got it stabilized, she was sent home for around one week.

“Her lung collapsed at home in bed,” her friend said.

Hughbanks was taken back to Clark Regional Medical Center by ambulance. She is now being treated at UK Hospital.

“They’re doing a super strong dose of steroid treatments, trying to see if they can work this on their own, trying to see if her lungs, the inflammation will go down,” Muzic-Chappell said. “If that doesn’t work...the next option would be to try to get her on lung transplant list. It would be a double.”

While she’s being treated, Hughbanks’ friends have rallied around her, raising money with a GoFundMe.

For Muzic-Chappell, sharing her friends’ story is a PSA for Kentuckians.

“It’s not something that’s just going away because the numbers are going down. It’s still very much so real, it’s still scary,” she said.

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