Just three weeks ago, Mélodie Trépanier Léger was, by all accounts, a healthy, vibrant 21-year-old. Now, the Sallaberry-de-Valleyfield resident is clinging to life in a Montreal hospital after contracting COVID-19.
“Her lungs are like cardboard,” said her father Jimmy Trépanier. “I’m worried that she might not come out.”
Trépanier Léger developed COVID-19 symptoms on Sept. 17 and was admitted to hospital a week later. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and she had to be placed in a medically-induced coma at the McGill University Health Centre’s Royal Victoria Health Centre.
“She hasn’t opened her eyes since,” Trépanier said, adding he’s worried and frightened.
“I’m not crying my tears from the outside, but I’m drowning in them from the inside. My soul is drowning, hoping.”
Trépanier said his daughter didn’t believe in COVID-19 and so refused to get vaccinated.
“She was thinking …let’s say the government was using (COVID-19) to either make more money, to profit on or even scare the population,” he said. “Now she’s intubated.”
Trépanier Léger’s family is going public with her story in the hopes others will change their mind and protect themselves by getting vaccinated.
Her mother, Sophie Léger, has been sharing updates in French on Facebook and started the hashtag #vaccinpourmelo to raise awareness.
On the day she was transferred from a local hospital to the MUHC, Léger begged for people to think long and hard about not getting vaccinated.
“She might be at our side, full of life pursuing her dreams,” Léger wrote of her daughter.
In Quebec, 85 per cent of the eligible population is adequately vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who aren’t, are 7.6 times more likely to become infected with the virus and have a 26.7 times higher chance of being hospitalized, according to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).
Dr. Gaston De Serres an epidemiologist with the INSPQ said unfortunately the virus is here to stay and those who aren’t vaccinated will eventually get infected.
And while younger people are less at risk then older people of ending up in hospital because of COVID-19, he cautioned against minimizing its impact and comparing it with other respiratory viruses like influenza.
“The problem with COVID-19 is this is a virus for which our population has no previous immunity compared to influenza,” he explained. ” When you’re at 20 years of age, you have probably encountered influenza several times. So you are in a situation where you can face a new infection with minimal risk.”
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That’s not true with COVID-19.
“Given the fact that this virus is totally new for individuals who are unvaccinated. You know, there will be a much greater proportion ending up in intensive care units,” he said.
De Serres is encouraging everyone who hasn’t yet gotten a shot to get vaccinated.
“They are really providing good protection and they are safe,” he said of the vaccines.
As for Trépanier-Léger’s family, they’re trying to remain optimistic that Mélodie will recover.
“She will come out. She will come out,” her dad said.
— with files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant
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