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'It Saved My Life': OC Woman Survives Coronavirus After Receiving Experimental Drug Leronlimab

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An Orange County woman is sharing her story of recovering from COVID-19 after receiving an experimental drug.

In early April, 55-year-old Samantha Mottet had left the hospital after a grueling battle with COVID-19.

She was critically ill on a ventilator in the ICU where they tried two experimental treatments that didn't work.

Her family then turned to Dr. Otto Yang from UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, where he's leading a clinical trial of a drug called Leronlimab.

The drug was first developed to treat HIV but it is now being used as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

"I just feel incredibly blessed to be here today. It still gives me chills to think how close I was to death I was," said Mottet.

"Literally, 60 hours after being injected Leronlimab, I was off the ventilator," she said. "After about three weeks, I'm back to normal. I'm riding my bike six miles a day, I'm back to riding my horse...I feel like my life is the way it was before I had the coronavirus."

Dr. Yang says Leronlimab is an artificial human antibody that works against the second phase of COVID-19. That's when the body's immune system overreacts in response to the virus and causes inflammation in the lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe.

"We saw quite a few of the patients seem to improve and a lot of physicians across the country that were using it had the same experience. However, those are not controlled studies. So, we don't have a comparison group, we don't have an exactly equal group that got no Leronlimab to be able to compare and say it definitely had an effect," Yang said.

Yang said controlled studies are underway and they'll have to see if it works on everybody or whether it works on just certain people.

"There's good scientific rationale for why it would work and I think a lot of us feel like there is strong circumstantial evidence that it does," said Yang.

"I truly believe in this drug, it saved my life," Mottet said.

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