Doctors believed a Northern Virginia mom would never get to see her newborn daughter grow up. But a "medical miracle" changed everything.
"From December until about early to mid-February I was asleep," Alma Zepeda recalled Thursday, moments after reuniting with her newborn baby Olivia and her three-year-old son Daniel for the first time in months.
Zepeda, a detective with the Alexandria City Police Department and an Army veteran, said she doesn’t remember giving birth back in December. Battling COVID-19, she was readmitted to the hospital days later and soon was intubated and in a coma.
"I knew she was coming home," said Zepeda’s husband, Daniel Warren. "She’s strong, one of the strongest women I ever met in my life. It’s one of the things I love about her."
Doctors weren’t so sure. "They said there’s no chance, just put her on hospice," explained Direct Biologics Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vikram Sengupta.
In a last-ditch effort, Zepeda was given ExoFlo, which Direct Biologics officials say is an investigational therapeutic available under compassionate emergency use by the FDA. It worked.
"It’s miraculous except it’s actually real medicine and real science," Sengupta told FOX 5. "This is very emotional for me. It speaks to everything that I stand for as a doctor."
Within days, Zepeda started to improve, eventually breathing without a ventilator. Now she’s reunited with her family, hopefully, for good.
"No more conversations over the phone, just in person, and being able to touch and hug and feel everyone," she said.
"We’re gonna do Christmas and New Year’s again. We’re gonna redo them," added Warren.
Zepeda does still have a long road to recovery ahead of her.
As for ExoFlo, Sengupta said it’s in late-stage clinical trials, and they hope to get it on the market by the end of the year.
For more info on Direct Biologics medicine visit their website here.