Family fighting to get Ottawa woman home after she contracted COVID-19 in Florida

OTTAWA — Since 2016, Elvira Sosing has spent her winters in Florida.

This year has been different.

Sosing is from Ottawa and is currently recovering in a Florida hospital after catching COVID-19 there. The virus caused her health to progressively get worse and the family is doing everything they can to try to bring her home before it’s too late. 

“She’s been in and out of the ICU three times. Intubated three times. There are times where she’s getting good and then all of a sudden got worse. And we almost lost her on two separate occasions,” said Sosing’s son Patrick Balaba. 

After Sosing caught COVID-19, the health complications started piling up to the point where she can’t even leave the hospital anymore.

“Now she has a trach,” said Balaba. “So, right now, she’s responsive and awake.”

Marney Cooper has been friends with Sosing for more than 20 years and said she is like family to her.

“The fact that she’s still with us at this point is an absolute miracle,” said Cooper. “Together with Patrick her son, and her family, we really just want to get her back to Ottawa. Get her back to Canada. We know what the health care system is like here and what we can do.”

Sosing decided to go to Florida even though Canadians were advised not to leave the country during the pandemic.

She lives in a small town there. The family said the hospital is doing everything it can for her but, though she is insured, it won’t cover the cost of an air ambulance home.

“Because she’s on a ventilator, dialysis, a feeding tube and oxygen, the expenses are a little bit more than what I suppose a normal transfer would be,” said Cooper.

Cooper wanted to help the family the only way she knew how, setting up a GoFundMe page to try to raise money to get her friend back home.

“She’s so amazing. In less than 12 hours there was close to ten thousand dollars. And that’s solely based on the fact that that’s how much she’s loved,” said Cooper.

Balaba said his mom is a fighter and he said he will keep fighting with her. 

“When we knew she was going downhill, we asked her, ‘Do you want us to keep fighting for you and do you want us to put you back on the ventilator?’ She said, ‘Yes, I want to fight. I still want to live my life.'”

Sosing was just a few weeks away from receiving her COVID-19 vaccine in Florida when she got sick. Now, getting her to an Ottawa hospital is the only thing that matters for her son.

“Knowing that my mom has a shot at living a longer life and getting better, I want to do everything I can to get her the help she needs and I believe that’s in Canada,” said Balaba.

“She’s an absolutely incredible person. She really would give you the shirt off her back. And she makes the best spring rolls you’ve ever had in your lif,” Cooper said laughing.  

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