At first doctors thought it was pneumonia and sent her home. Three days later, 24-year-old Lynchburg resident Molly Chapol was in the hospital for what turned out to be a more than 160-day stay with COVID-19. Multiple times her family was told she was going to die. But she came home on June 19, and her family gives all the glory to God.
It all started around Christmas in 2019 when Chapol, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015, had a lot of congestion and believed she had a cold. She tested negative twice for COVID-19, but looking back her family believes she had a couple false negative tests.
On Jan. 4, 2020, she went to the hospital and was told she had pneumonia, but was sent home after two days. On Jan. 7, Chapol’s mother, Lynchburg resident Marty Jones, went to visit her daughter and noticed she was not breathing well. Chapol ended up in the hsopital again and by Jan. 16 was placed on a ventilator. But doctors said the ventilator was not enough and Chapol was placed on a ECMO lung bypass machine, a device that pumps the blood out of a patient’s body, puts oxygen in the blood, then places the blood back in the body.
“They said that was a last-ditch effort to save her,” Jones said.
Chapol ended up being on a ventilator for 55 days. Jones said doctors told her that anyone surviving after being on a ventilator that long is very rare, not to mention someone who was battling COVID-19.
“After 15 days they gave her no hope,” Jones said. “They said her lungs were some of the worse they’d ever seen and that they’d never saw someone with lungs like her’s survive.”
It was around that time the family had a meeting with the doctors.
“We just told them, ‘You keep her her on ECMO. Our God will heal. We’re not going to give up until God heals her or calls her home,’” Jones said.
Chapol’s husband, Rodrigo, who works at La Cascada in Hillsboro, told the doctors his wife liked a challenge and that if she could, she would them the same thing the family had told the doctors. They doctors said they liked a challenge, too.
In the 55 days she was on the ventilator, Chapol had three massive “bleeds” and a pulmonary embolism. About halfway through those experiences, her lungs completely collapsed. But 24 hours after they collapsed, her left lung opened and was clear. Jones said that despite lots of “one step forward and two steps back,” that was the first huge turn.
“It’s like God reached in and healed her. It’s crazy,” Jones said.
But she also believes the healing came through the power of prayer. She said that literally millions of people, all across the United States and in Mexico, Qatar, Germany, India and elsewhere around the world, were praying for her daughter.
After 40 days on the ventilator, doctors took the 2015 Lynchburg-Clay graduate and Laurel Oaks cosmetology student off the ventilator, two days after they said she would not last a minute without it. She lasted 18 hours.
Then there was another massive “bleed.” After the 55 days on the ventilator Chapol developed a hole in a lung and a chest tube had to be inserted. Chapol coded. She went hypoxic — lacking enough oxygen in her tissues to sustain her bodily functions — for 41 minutes, but survived. Within hours she woke up with no brain damage or other issues from the hypoxia.
“One of the doctors said, ‘It’s God and the prayers that brought her through this because medically, she’s a miracle,’” Jones said.
All those issues, Jones said, only touch the surface of what her daughter went through.
During the ordeal, Chapol’s husband, who was a non-believer, gave his life to God, along with his father. They attend the Allensburg Church of Christ. The Lynchburg-Clay schools held two fundraisers, Rodrigo’s place of employment held another one.
“I can’t tell you how blessed we our with our people God put in our path during this journey,” Jones said.
About three weeks before she left the hospital, Chapol had go through a procedure involving the partial removal of a rib. Doctors said it would set her back several weeks. Throughout the whole ordeal other doctors said that if she somehow survived, she would be on ECMO with a ventilator the rest of her life, living in some type of medical facility.
But, Jones said, “God has moved to fix everything.”
The family was told that no one survives the massive bleeds Chapol endured, nor do they live after being hypoxic for 41 minutes.
“It’s all been a blessing that people have changed their lives, her husband was saved,” Jones said. “God gets the glory.”
For those who don’t believe COVID-19 can touch almost anyone, Jones pointed out that her daughter is just 24. She said that being in and out of the hospital for more than 100 days, the family saw plenty of the pain caused by the pandemic. During the same time, Jones and Chapol’s husband and father all had Covid.
Chapol is recovering in a wheel chair and is living with her mother for the time being. She had some unexplained paralyzing in her left foot and right arm, but is recovering from that, too.
“We give all the glory to God and all the people who have prayed and helped us through this thing because it is the hardest thing we’ve had to go through,” Jones said. “…But God is good.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.