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Virginia Beach woman with Down Syndrome wins COVID battle, defies the odds

After 37 days inside Sentara Leigh Hospital, Beki Powell finally headed home on Wednesday.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — There hasn’t been much to smile about over the last 11 months. 6,575 Virginians have lost their lives to COVID-19. But a Virginia Beach woman beat the odds.

After 37 days inside Sentara Leigh Hospital, Beki Powell finally headed home on Wednesday.

“She’s crushed every obstacle in her path,” said her mom, Kathy Powell.

Beki is just 34 and is considered high risk, because she has Down Syndrome. The CDC says people with Down Syndrome have a high risk of getting really sick if they contract COVID-19. The National Down Syndrome Society says part of the reason is that people with Down Syndrome are more likely to get infections in general.

“When Beki is sick, she is about a 2-year-old," Powell said. “I want you to think of a 2-year-old being put on a ventilator without their mommy or their dad or anybody that they love.”

Powell said Beki was admitted with COVID pneumonia on December 28.

“Over the last month and a half, she has faced death twice,” Powell said.

She became a familiar face in the ICU, because her recovery was touch-and-go.

“They said she would never do all the things she did before,” Powell said. “And what you see today is nothing short of a miracle.”

In that time, Powell and her husband Ken also beat COVID. They leaned on their faith and on support from friendly strangers. She posted daily updates about Beki’s fight on social media.

“People would share it with their people on their page and it started going around from there,” Powell said. “And it started going all across the United States and around the world.”

As Beki got better, Powell said her smiles encouraged staff. She said Beki’s doctors and nurses were top-notch.

“They see so much loss every single day and then there is this one yelling out to them, joy, joy, joy, joy and giving them hugs and blowing them kisses,” Powell said.

She believes Beki became a symbol of hope for her followers too.

“It’s like a glimmer of light in a really dark place. That’s Beki,” Powell said.

A month ago, they had to prepare for the possibility Beki might not make it. This weekend, they’ll celebrate her win.

“Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and salad, a celebration cake, and the movie 'Frozen 2,'” Powell said. “She’s already put her order in.”