TELL CITY, Ind. (WFIE) - A local native who was previously diagnosed with COVID-19 is now on the road to recovery after becoming one of the first coronavirus patients in the U.S. to receive an experimental drug as part of her treatment.
Samantha Mottet was born and raised in Tell City. However, she now lives in Orange County, California.
One month ago, Mottet started feeling sick, and never expected to be diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I went to UCLA because I wasn’t eating and drinking, and I was concerned about my liver - it never entered my mind that I had the COVID,“ Mottet said.
Mottet had a liver transplant at UCLA back in 2006, so when she returned to get treatment for the virus, it was a team effort.
”By the morning of March 29, the doctors were calling my family - stating that I was gravely ill and they were going to put me into an induced coma," Mottet said. ”We had no hope. If they turned that machine off - I would’ve died."
At that moment, Dr. Otto Yang stepped in with what he is calling a “Hail Mary."
“It’s called leronlimab," Dr. Yang said. “It is an artificial antibody which binds to and blocks something called CCR5.”
Dr. Yang says the drug has been used to fight HIV and has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
”The FDA does allow what’s called emergency use or compassionate use of drugs that have shown to be relatively safe for treating disease where there is no known treatment," Dr. Yang said.
Mottet returned home on April 10 and is now on the mend.
“It was just something I thought was worth trying," Dr. Yang said. “Again, we don’t know if the drug did it, or if she would’ve gotten better on her own. I am just super grateful for people like her that are interested in participating.”
Dr. Yang says it is so beneficial to have patients willing to try experimental treatments and experiments because that is how cures are found.
Mottet says she owes her recovery to Dr. Yang, the FDA, as well as the people of Tell City.
“That’s what kept me going,” Mottet said. “I knew that I had people praying for me and I’m so proud of my hometown for backing me up after being away for 31 years.”
Doctors say Mottet was the eighth person in the U.S. to receive this drug to treat COVID-19. Since then, the medical team at UCLA has given it to a handful of other patients.