ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Claire Bridges, a 20-year-old, bubbly kavatender at the Grassroots Kava House in St. Pete, is sitting in a hospital room facing the unthinkable reality that she might have both legs amputated after getting sick with COVID-19.
Claire was vaccinated, but due to a congenital heart condition, she developed a complication that could change her life forever.
"She wasn’t getting circulation to her legs and, because of that, there was a lot of muscle damage," said her best friend and roommate, Heather Valdes.
Claire nearly died multiple times, but somehow kept her spirits up.
"Claire is just a positive ray of light and she's a wonderful woman," Valdes said. "When she woke up and they told her about it, she was very calm and very peaceful and said, ‘I want bionic legs,’" she noted.
Friends and family have raised tens of thousands of dollars through online fundraisers for her medical bills and future expenses. Though her prognosis is dire, her best friend says Claire's future remains bright, even if it seems dark in the moment.
"I think she's going to make the best out of this and have many opportunities to come into her life," Valdes said. "Just take [COVID] seriously and realize it is not a joke."