Gabriella Acosta Given Hero’s Sendoff At Staten Island University Hospital After Beating COVID

A young woman who has battled the odds throughout her life most recently beat COVID-19. On Tuesday, she got a surprise from the doctors and nurses who helped save her life, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

Video Transcript

MAURICE DUBOIS: Now, the story of a young woman who's battled the odds all her life. And most recently, she beat COVID.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: Today, she got a surprise from the doctors and nurses who helped save her. CBS2's Hazel Sanchez was there on Staten Island for the celebration.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Gabriella Acosta is tough. After a frightening bout with COVID-19 one year ago, she's celebrating her 21st birthday. The pediatric staff who cared for her at Staten Island University Hospital surprised her with a birthday party-- a wrestling theme, fitting for this avid fan and the fighter she turned out to be.

- Is there anything you want to say to the doctors that helped make you better?

GABRIELLA ACOSTA: I guess thanks. I'm a bit nervous.

GABRIELLA ACOSTA: Nervous. And who could blame Gabby, with TV news cameras welcoming her back to the hospital for a reunion with her doctors.

- She seems to be doing well. This is a very big feel-good moment.

GABRIELLA ACOSTA: Gabby, who has Down Syndrome, was the hospital's first pediatric patient with severe COVID pneumonia, complicated by asthma and diabetes. During the pandemic, only her mother could be by her side. Her father could only see her virtually.

TONY ACOSTA: The first day that she got admitted, I was not allowed upstairs, and I just sat outside for a couple hours just hopeless, you know. She's my angel.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Elizabeth Acosta, fearing the worst, never left her daughter's bedside for the near months she was hospitalized, intubated for two weeks.

ELIZABETH ACOSTA: I kept talking to her. I was like, Gabriella, we both got to leave out of here together. I cannot leave you behind.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: After what was experimental treatment at the time, Gabby was finally breathing on her own. The Pediatric Department gave her a hero's sendoff, and she was well enough to go home. Now, she's back riding her trike Dad fitted with lights. And she's definitely regained her spunk.

- You're the cutest.

GABRIELLA ACOSTA: I know.

- I bet you get told that all the time. Right?

GABRIELLA ACOSTA: Yeah.

- Yeah.

GABRIELLA ACOSTA: And she's capping off this hospital visit, grateful she's getting stronger every day. On Staten Island, Hazel Sanchez, CBS2 News.