San Diego

‘I'm Worried I'm Going to Die': Doctor Gives Advice After Recovering From COVID-19

Dr. Lakshmi Koripella, 30, spent a week at Scripps Green Hospital, a place where she never imaged COVID-19 would take her

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A doctor who spent a week at a local hospital fighting COVID-19 is hoping young adults learn from her story and think about every decision they make during this pandemic.

Dr. Lakshmi Koripella, 30, spent a week at Scripps Green Hospital, a place where she never imaged COVID-19 would take her.

Koripella got COVID-19 in June as she was working on her Palliative Medicine Fellowship at UC San Diego and Scripps Health. She still doesn't know where she may have contracted the virus.

Her body was initially sore, and within days she could hardly breathe. She was then taken to the hospital and soon transferred to the intensive care unit because she couldn't breathe on her own.

During her stay, she sent a text to her brother saying, " I'm worried I'm going to die."

"You just think about things getting worse and everything you should’ve done," she said. "I was thinking about the last time I talked to my parents, 'Did I tell them how thankful I was?' 'Did I tell my brother I loved him?'" 

Koripella has no underlying health conditions and lives an active lifestyle. Thankfully, she made it out of the hospital.

That's why I wanted to share my story with hopes that even one person would change their behavior

Dr. Lakshmi Koripella

She wants young adults to know that the ICU is the last place they want to be.

"There seems to be kind of a disconnect with like, 'I’m a young person and I’m not a young person who can get hospitalized' and I just want people to understand this can happen to anyone," she said. "It's really easy to feel far removed until you're in the hospital, and unfortunately for a lot of people, that's too late."

According to coronavirus data from San Diego County, nearly 25% of all COVID-19 cases are among patients 20 to 29 years old, and a staggering 58% include people 20 to 49 years old.

Koripella looks visually better now after being released from the hospital three weeks ago, but she's still not fully recovered.

Koripella advises others to wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

"I would advise with every decision you make during this time, you think about, 'Is this worth my life? And is this worth potentially the life of my loved ones?' And if the answer is no, you should be doing it."

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