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Model, 21, who had both of her legs amputated while hospitalized for COVID is ‘happy to be alive’

A 21-year-old model and avid rock climber who had both of her legs amputated due to COVID-19 complications has finally gone home from the hospital after two months. 

Claire Bridges from St. Petersburg, Florida was fully vaccinated when she tested positive for COVID-19 in early January. 

But having been born with a congenital heart condition, her condition soon worsened, and on January 16 she was admitted to a Tampa hospital and diagnosed with COVID-19 myocarditis, cyanotic, acidosis, rhabdomyolysis, and mild pneumonia.

Restricted blood flow had caused damage to her legs, which had to be amputated.

But Bridges has maintained an optimistic outlook, and last week she joyously celebrated her 21st birthday at home with friends and family.

Claire Bridges, a model from Florida, was home to celebrate her 21st birthday after two months in the hospital battling COVID complications, including a double leg amputation

She was fully vaccinated when she tested positive for COVID-19 in early January

She was fully vaccinated when she tested positive for COVID-19 in early January

Claire (seen before she was hospitalized) has remained positive, and her father said she was happy to be alive

Claire (seen before she was hospitalized) has remained positive, and her father said she was happy to be alive

Bridges was born with aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve.

She had open heart surgery at age nine and, according to her mother, Kimberly White Smith, grew ‘into an incredible, loving, vivacious, bright young woman.’

But when she tested positive for COVID-19, it ‘devastated’ her.

Her mother said that she was sent home from the emergency room the first time she went, but she returned with ‘extreme leg pain’ the next day — and again, she was sent home.

The third time she went to the hospital, her condition was critical, and she coded three times before undergoing a four-hour surgery to place tandem heart life support.

Her mother said there was ‘more life support for her lungs, continual kidney dialysis, feeding tube, access lines, [and] IVs,’ and Bridges suffered liver damage, kidney failure, and muscle deterioration called rhabdomyolysis — which led to doctors amputating her legs. 

Bridges was born with a congenital heart condition and was soon hospitalized, requiring life support

Bridges was born with a congenital heart condition and was soon hospitalized, requiring life support

She suffered liver damage, kidney failure, and muscle deterioration called rhabdomyolysis, which led to doctors amputating her legs

She suffered liver damage, kidney failure, and muscle deterioration called rhabdomyolysis, which led to doctors amputating her legs

She suffered liver damage, kidney failure, and muscle deterioration called rhabdomyolysis, which led to doctors amputating her legs

'As much as she's faced, she's happy to be alive. That’s the thing about Claire, she's very grateful,' her father said

‘As much as she’s faced, she’s happy to be alive. That’s the thing about Claire, she’s very grateful,’ her father said 

Bridges is an avid rock climber and is awaiting prosthetics so she can get back to it

Bridges is an avid rock climber and is awaiting prosthetics so she can get back to it

Bridges is an avid rock climber and is awaiting prosthetics so she can get back to it

According to the CDC, ‘rhabdomyolysis (often called rhabdo) is a serious medical condition that can be fatal or result in permanent disability’.

‘[The condition] occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood,’ the description explains. ‘These substances can damage the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability or even death.’ 

But despite incredible trauma, Bridges pulled through — and a month later, her parents were sharing a hopeful outlook. 

‘She’s staying positive. They got to move her around a little bit,’ her father, Wayne Bridges, told local Fox 13 in early February. ‘She said “This is awesome.”

‘As much as she’s faced, she’s happy to be alive. That’s the thing about Claire, she’s very grateful,’ he added. 

She shared photos from the hospitals and thanked the staff who cared for her

She shared photos from the hospitals and thanked the staff who cared for her

In February, was able to sit up for the first time in a month, and on March 15 she shared a photo on Instagram

In February, was able to sit up for the first time in a month, and on March 15 she shared a photo on Instagram

Finally, last week, she was discharged

'She is determined, she is excited to come home and she is ready for this next phase,' her father said

Finally, last week, she was discharged. ‘She is determined, she is excited to come home and she is ready for this next phase,’ her father said

In February, was able to sit up for the first time in a month, and on March 15 she shared a photo on Instagram. 

‘I sat up by myself today!! So stoked,’ she wrote.

Finally, last week, she was discharged.

‘She is determined, she is excited to come home and she is ready for this next phase,’ her father told WESH.

She is now getting occupational therapy and physical therapy multiple times a week, and was able to be at home to celebrate her 21st birthday with family and friends on Saturday. 

She is now getting occupational therapy and physical therapy multiple times a week, and was able to be at home to celebrated her 21st birthday with family and friends on Saturday

She is now getting occupational therapy and physical therapy multiple times a week, and was able to be at home to celebrated her 21st birthday with family and friends on Saturday

Marking the occasion, she shared several photos of herself enjoying the event in her wheelchair, with both of her legs and two fingers bandaged

Marking the occasion, she shared several photos of herself enjoying the event in her wheelchair, with both of her legs and two fingers bandaged

Marking the occasion, she shared several photos of herself enjoying the event in her wheelchair, with both of her legs and two fingers bandaged

Meanwhile, over $100,000 in donations have poured in on GoFundMe

Meanwhile, over $100,000 in donations have poured in on GoFundMe 

Marking the occasion, she shared several photos of herself enjoying the event in her wheelchair, with both of her legs and two fingers bandaged.  

She wrote: ’21st spent right! Grateful for all the love and wishes.’

In another update this week, she shared that she is preparing to have her stitches removed, which marks another step towards her getting prosthetics. 

‘I’m doing good,’ she told her followers. ‘I have occupational therapy, physical therapy and at home nursing now multiple times a week and I’m getting up and moving a lot more. 

‘Also get my stitches out of my nubs next week. I’ll be walking in no time!’

Meanwhile, over $100,000 in donations have poured in on GoFundMe, and funds are being raised to get her prosthetics so she can get back to rock climbing.  

The life-threatening condition that forced Claire Bridges to undergo a double amputation: What is rhabdo and how is it treated?

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged muscle tissue releases a potentially-fatal proteins and electrolytes into the blood. 

This can then lead to a number of very serious health conditions, including heart and kidney damage, permanent disability, and – in some cases where diagnosis occurs too late – death. 

The condition can be caused by several different factors, such as:   

  • Crush injury 
  • Alcohol and drug abuse 
  • Overexertion 
  • Medicines and toxic substances

Symptoms include muscle pain, muscle weakness or trouble moving arms and legs, abdominal pain, fever, dark red or brown urine, and/or decreased urination.

Early diagnosis is key to successful treatment. Potential remedies include IV fluids to prevent kidney failure, electrolyte management to protect the heart, and fasciotomy, a surgical procedure to relieve tension or pressure in the limbs.

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