Community provides resources, assistance to family after 3-year-old paralyzed following COVID-19

Coronavirus New Mexico

WATCH: Full interview with Cassandra Yazzie and daughter Estalla

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. For Cassandra Yazzie, her life was completely flipped upside down when her three-year-old daughter Estalla contracted COVID-19.

The virus hit the little girl so hard, it left her in a coma and paralyzed from the neck down. However, she is fighting. Cassandra Yazzie and Estalla talk about what they’ve endured so far and how they plan to overcome this challenge.

Cassandra explains that while at home, her daughter told her that her back hurt before collapsing on her lap. Estalla was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center before being airlifted to UNM Hospital.

It was then that Estalla tested positive for COVID-19. Cassandra says that health officials had to put a tube down Estalla’s throat and she then fell into a coma.

“The COVID-19 gave her transverse meningitis. She used to be a little girl that used to be able to walk and be able to run around and play with other kids,” said Cassandra. “Now she’s not able to do that but she’s still happy and right about everything and it’s changed a lot in our lives where we had to move here to Albuquerque and make everything more, more accessible for her to where we make sure she gets the proper medical care she needs here closer to the hospital.”

While Cassandra explains that health officials initially didn’t believe that Estalla would be able to survive, she has since been able to move her arms and legs slightly and can sit up with assistance. “They’re saying that she’s made a lot of really good progress and they’ve been a lot of help with us, UNM has helped us a lot,” said Cassandra.

Estalla has been in the hospital since April which required her family to make the transition to Albuquerque. They were able to do this through support and resources offered by several organizations including the City of Albuquerque Family & Community Services to help provide housing for Cassandra while Estalla recovers.

“We would like everyone to be safe and to keep your mask on, wash your hands, and sanitize everything because whatever’s going on with this COVID, it’s not a joke because it affects a lot of people,” said Cassandra. “It took her father from her and it just affects a lot of people that it shouldn’t affect but it affected my daughter in so many ways but she’s come back from it.”

Estalla is now four-years-old and her mother says that health officials believe she could be released later in January. Cassandra and her sister are now receiving training to assist Estalla in her recovery.

The City of Albuquerque’s Family & Community Services Department offers assistance through homeless services, housing services and programs, and health and social services. For more information, visit cabq.gov.

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