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Holding on to Hope: Debbie’s Journey from ‘Deathbed’ to ‘Blessed’

In 2012, Debbie* was living in a rural town in Nevada when she got sick with pneumonia. One morning, her husband of nearly 40 years woke her up when he saw her lips were blue and she was barely breathing.

Debbie was moved to a hospital in Reno where she met Dr. Krasner, a HOPES provider and was diagnosed with HIV.

At the time she was admitted to the hospital, Debbie weighed 125 pounds. When she was later moved to a skilled nursing facility, she weighed 62 pounds.

“I literally was on my deathbed,” Debbie recalls. “I didn’t know anything of it [HIV+ status]. Dr. Krasner told my son and husband, ‘Don’t give up hope’.”

Debbie was in the right place to get the help she needed. Since starting off as an HIV/ AIDS clinic in the late ‘90s, HOPES has continued to provide lifesaving, compassionate care for patients like Debbie over the last two and a half decades.

When Debbie was hospitalized, finances were tight. She was uninsured and quickly racked up millions of dollars in hospital bills. Her family had to put their belongings in storage while a close friend watched their son. Her husband slept in the parking lot of the hospital for months. HOPES staff members supported Debbie through this challenging time. They helped her navigate the healthcare system, get the coverage she needed, and access Social Security benefits. They also connected her with resources for food and clothing after her release.

When Debbie was discharged from the hospital, she had to learn how to walk and speak again. She emerged with a new perspective on life.

“They saved my life,” Debbie said of her time with HOPES. “Am grateful to be here with my husband of 37 years and my two children. If it wasn’t for HOPES, I wouldn’t have seen my son graduate and join the Air Force. It makes me cry, but it is a happy cry. I am happy to be alive and I owe all of that to God and to HOPES.”

The last time Debbie saw Dr. Krasner, her viral load was undetectable, meaning the amount of HIV in her body was very low.

“I am blessed,” she said. “I truly got blessed.”

Because of our generous donors like you, HOPES staff members are equipped to guide countless others facing similar struggles with dignity, compassion, and hope.

*Debbie’s name has been changed to protect her privacy

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