Easter miracle: How I nearly died from coronavirus
KYM Watkins was so close to dying from coronavirus that when she returned to the ward from intensive care, a respiratory doctor did a double-take.
"He said 'I'm surprised to see you here - I thought you were going to die'," the retired Gold Coast police officer recalled on Saturday.
"I'm very glad to be still here talking to you."
Queensland's first critically-ill COVID-19 patient, Mrs Watkins was released from Gold Coast University Hospital to the applause of doctors and nurses on Thursday after surviving her terrifying brush with the killer virus.
The 61-year-old contracted the disease in New York while on a dream holiday with her husband Grant and some friends from New Zealand.
"It had been a two-year plan with them to get to New York and then board a cruise to the Caribbean," she said.
The cruise was cancelled on March 14 and the following day, Mrs Watkins began developing COVID-19 symptoms.
"It wasn't too bad at first - just a bit of a fever and a cough," she said.
"I was still walking around but as the days went on, I started to feel worse."
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
Mrs Watkins and her husband decided to 'get as home as soon as we can' and arrived back in Australia on March 19, as her condition began to deteriorate.
"The fever was getting worse - I didn't realise how bad it was because we didn't have a working thermometer," she said.
As her health slid further downhill, she was admitted to hospital on March 25 and placed on oxygen.
She ended up in ICU after collapsing on the toilet.
"I was bent over gasping for air, coughing my heart out," she said.
"Within half an hour, I was on a ventilator. I spent three days in intensive care and I don't remember a thing about it."
Mrs Watkins said when she came out of her induced coma, she was able to call her desperately worried husband - who also caught COVID-19 but only experienced mild symptoms - and other family members.
"I told them 'I'm still here - and I'm going to walk out of this place," she said.
She did just that on Thursday - well, in a wheelchair - as hospital staff clapped and cheered her miraculous recovery.
"You can't see how big I'm smiling under this mask,' she said as she was wheeled out of the ward.
"Thank-you for saving my life!"
Mrs Watkins, who is now in isolation at her Coast home, said her near-death experience should serve as a lesson to people to take the coronavirus threat seriously.
"The (restriction) rules are in place for a reason - to keep you safe," she said.
Originally published as Easter miracle: How I nearly died from coronavirus