An Illinois woman spent 10 months in the hospital after contracting COVID-19. A lung transplant saved her life.

MADISON, Wis. — A 28-year-old Rockford woman beat all odds of survival after an unbelievable 10-month journey.

Darlene Johnson contracted COVID-19 last fall while she was 37 weeks pregnant. Her case became so severe that doctors needed to perform a C-section to save the child.

Baby Hazel was born healthy in mid-September, but Johnson’s health deteriorated soon after. She was transferred to intensive care at the UW Health Swedish American Hospital in Illinois and put on a ventilator.

Over the next few weeks, her lungs collapsed. She was then transferred to UW Hospital in Madison while she awaited a lung transplant.

Four months later, in March, she received the transplant. Months later, on July 13 — 302 days after she was first admitted — Johnson left the hospital for home.

“From almost dying to finally making it home, it was such a special time,” she said. “My husband and I walked out of the hospital together, and that was just one of the most special things was being able to actually stand up and walk out of the hospital because no one thought that was going to happen. I didn’t think that was going to happen.”

Johnson said she’s grateful to the donor and their family for making the decision to donate an organ. Without their gift, Johnson said she wouldn’t be alive.