MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Baptist Health approval to test a stem cell treatment on COVID-19 patients and so far it's come back with positive results.
The treatment has proven successful with three patients.
One of those patients, Ruth Ramirez says it saved her life.
Ramirez was discharged from the hospital on Friday afternoon.
"They saved my life. They definitely saved my life," said Ramirez.
Ramirez recently received stem cells from an umbilical cord known as mesenchymal cells.
"Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to reduce cytokine levels," said doctor Guenther Koehne.
Baptist Hospital says patients like Ramirez showed a reduction of their oxygen requirement from 100% to less than 50% within days of the infusion, accompanied by a significant reduction in levels of various key circulating inflammatory markers.
"I couldn't breathe. I had a fever a headache I was nauseous," said Ramirez.
Ruth, an employee of the Miami Cancer Institute, tested positive for COVID-19 back on April 7th. She was admitted to the ICU and ended up on a ventilator fighting for her life.
Knowing she may lose consciousness she gave her sister power of attorney. That is when doctors Koehne and Javier Perez Fernandez approached the family about this FDA approved experimental therapy.
"I'm a person who jumps. I jump with hope with the best outcome there is on the other side. I think she took that into consideration with my characteristic and said Ruth would probably do this."
According to friends, Ruth was in ICU for three weeks, on a ventilator, and unable to breathe on her own.
All that time, she was away from her two small kids. That was several days ago.
On Friday, she was discharged.
"To be here in this room, alone, and not being able to hold them. It was hard you know it's hard."
"As soon as they told me that I was going home I was like what?? And that I tested negative again I was like wait!! That changed my mood completely"
Still fuzzy on the timeline, Ruth says she's unsure where along the way she received the treatment but is thankful for the doctors and wants others to know there is hope.
"You know I hear the bells here all the time – the eye of the tiger – that's the song that you walk out of when you come out with coronavirus. It's such a pleasure hearing it all the time now. More than I heard it yesterday."
Not only did the doctors step up, but so did her co-workers who set up this Ruthie-strong go fund me page to help with bills and expenses.
They also helped take care of her family.
"They would send food to them. Groceries. My kids were taken care of my sister was taken care of. She didn't have to leave from the house."
"They're just amazing."
The University of Miami is also working on a clinical trial using mesenchymal cells which we reported on in April.
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