LaDonna Mendez

OTHELLO - A 31-year-old second grade teacher from Othello is fighting for her life in a Portland-area hospital after contracting coronavirus over a month ago.

According to a GoFundMe page set up for LaDonna Mendez, LaDonna was a para-educator at Lutacaga Elementary for the last 10 years, had just graduated with her teaching certificate and had only taught four days as a teacher at Wahitis Elementary before falling ill to coronavirus.

LaDonna was admitted to Kadlec Medical Center’s emergency room on Friday, Sept. 10, went into what’s described as “respiratory stress” the next day, “maxing out” on her ventilator, and was later airlifted to a Portland hospital for an elevated level of care the following Monday.

LaDonna’s friend, Alicia De La Fuente, says the criticality of LaDonna’s condition was so severe, medical staff informed family that the helicopter ride may stress LaDonna's body to the point of death. Fortunately, LaDonna managed to pull through.

LaDonna is currently on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO), also known as extracorporeal life support. An ECMO is an extracorporeal technique of providing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange or perfusion to sustain life. LaDonna is also on dialysis for her kidneys. LaDonna also underwent a tracheotomy.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help LaDonna and her family with medical expenses.

La Fuente says LaDonna had received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but believes LaDonna contracted it before her first immunization shot.