Comatose mom with COVID woke up just in time, son says


A 69-year-old woman had COVID-19, was put on a ventilator and went into a medically induced coma at Maine Medical Center and woke up just in time, her son said.

Andrew Lerman

Doctors had “no hope” for a comatose mom with COVID-19 until the unexpected happened.

The day before Bettina Lerman, 69, was going to have her life support pulled, she woke up just in time on Oct. 29 at Maine Medical Center in Portland, her son Andrew Lerman, 41, told McClatchy News over the phone.

“It was right down to the minute,” he said. “If she didn’t wake up that day, the next day she would have been terminated on life support.”

“The hospital is completely dumbfounded about this situation,” Lerman added, calling it a “true miracle.”

He said doctors thought his mom’s organs would fail weeks before she woke up, thinking she was sure to pass away after being hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sept. 12 and needing a ventilator nine days later when she was put in a medically induced coma.

Now, Bettina Lerman, who is from Tavares, Florida, is doing “amazing,” even better than expected with doctors declaring on Nov. 19 she no longer needs a ventilator, her son said.

She hasn’t had any ventilator support for 24 hours at the time of writing.

“They were like ‘we would love to give you an answer for this, but we cannot explain what is going on here,’ ” Lerman said about his mom’s awakening and recovery.

Before Bettina Lerman came out of her coma, Andrew Lerman, who is one of three siblings, and his family were having weekly meetings about his mom with doctors saying her lungs “were completely gone,” due to COVID-19.

She is unvaccinated and had planned on getting the COVID-19 vaccine but became sick with the virus. Additionally, she has other health issues such as diabetes and a prior heart attack, her son said.

Doctors also said they could not get Bettina Lerman to wake up from her coma and the family eventually made the decision to end life support, Andrew Lerman said

The family had funeral arrangements set and had chosen Bettina Lerman’s headstone, the cemetery she would be buried in and the clothes she would wear, Andrew Lerman said.

They even donated her belongings and signed her apartment away back to the leasing company.

However, the day before his mom was going to be taken off life support, Andrew Lerman said he got huge news from the hospital saying she woke up.

“I was like ‘what are you talking about she woke up?’ They were like ‘she’s awake,’ ” Andrew Lerman said.

He and his wife raced to the hospital.

“She just kept on fighting and fighting and fighting and now look where she’s at,” he said.

“Every COVID case is different,” he added. “Not every outcome is going to be like my mom’s.”

When Bettina Lerman was in the coma, Andrew Lerman said, she remembered people visiting her and could hear them talking.

Because of this, he said he wanted to offer advice to people in a similar situation.

“If you have somebody in the hospital dealing with this, talk to them. They can hear you,” he said.

Andrew Lerman said it is unknown how his mom got COVID-19.

He also lives in Florida but had been going back and forth between there and Maine with his wife because his dad had stage four lung and kidney cancer that he’s now in remission for.

He said his mom was also helping his dad out in the state. His dad got COVID-19 too and recovered but it is unclear if his mom gave it to him or vice versa, Andrew Lerman noted.

Andrew Lerman and his wife ended up also coming down with the virus.

As his mom is recovering, Andrew Lerman said “she’s got a lot of rebuilding to do.”

“She doesn’t have anything,” he said, since her belongings were donated. “She doesn’t even know that she’s technically homeless right now, but I mean, family is going to make sure that she’s not.”

Bettina Lerman is a grandmother to four grandchildren, including Andrew Lerman’s daughter.

His sister has set up a GoFundMe for Bettina Lerman to help support her in her recovery that has raised over $4,500 out of its $25,000 goal.

Currently, Bettina Lerman is able to talk and in a video provided to McClatchy News by Andrew Lerman, he told his mom he loved her.

“I love you too,” she is seen replying.

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Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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