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Eden COVID-19 survivor shares new details on the long road to recovery

26-year-old Tionna Hairston continues to recover months after she was released from a rehab hospital, following COVID-19 complications.

EDEN, N.C. — It's been four months since 26-year-old Tionna Hairston left the Novant Health Rehabilitation Hospital to cheers. 

After nearly losing her life to COVID-19 she's battled every day to recover, a journey that is still well underway. 

Hairston was diagnosed with the virus in May 2020. 

At the time of her diagnosis, she had no symptoms and helped take care of her mother who was also suffering from COVID-19. 

"She felt ok she just had a sniffle, maybe a small cough," said Stacy Peatross, Tionna's mom. 

Things quickly spiraled with Hairston suffering multiple strokes, cardiac arrest, blood clots, and brain damage, all complications of the virus. 

"She stopped breathing, stopped everything, she died for 30 minutes. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life," said Peatross. "They called in hospice, they said she was not going to survive if she did she would be a complete vegetable, they said she would never smile again, she would never breathe on her own again, never walk again." 

Home videos and pictures now reveal the long road to Hairston's recovery, in the hospital, rehab facility and now at home. 

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Each day Tionna is making progress. 

Her mom says she can walk with help and is getting her smile back, but she still has memory issues and doesn't speak like she once did. 

Doctors say it could take years of rehab and therapy for Tionna to make a full recovery and finally share in her own words, the battle she fought to survive COVID-19.