A tiny medical device was key in one Hawaii woman’s fight against COVID-19

It's tiny and affordable — and this Hawaii resident says it saved her life after contracting COVID-19

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Honolulu woman is crediting a tiny and affordable medical device with saving her life after she contracted COVID-19.

The device is called a pulse oximeter, which measures blood oxygen levels.

It can be found at most drug stores for roughly $20. But for 70-year-old Wilma Ogimi, its value is priceless.

Ogimi said she started feeling a little tired late last month and developed a cough.

She went to get tested for COVID-19 at a free community testing site and her results came back negative for the virus. But the retired medical technician and her family knew something wasn’t right.

“She was so weak,” said Ogimi’s daughter, Tricia Araki.

“She had a hard time just walking herself to go take a shower and so we were probably more concerned. The false negative ... gave us that sense of maybe she’s OK, but we as a family were more concerned."

The oximeter dictated the next steps.

“By that evening, the reader went below 90 and on the advice of the physicians that we had consulted, they said anytime I went under 90 to get into ER and that’s when I went on Monday morning,” Ogimi said.

A retest at Straub Medical Center showed it was the coronavirus, potentially deadly especially for a senior.

However, doctors were able to treat the virus quickly.

“They said ‘lucky you came in early because your lungs weren’t really bad yet’ and that was such a good thing and the people at Straub were phenomenal,” Ogimi said.

Ogimi has since made a full recovery and returned home this past weekend. Her family is not only relieved, but thankful for reading the sings early.

“Mom had no cough, no shortness of breath, just a slight fever and body ache and was super fatigued,” Araki said. "But we didn’t suspect COVID because she wasn’t coughing and she could breathe fine according to her, but not according to the oximeter,'

The family wants their story to send a message to the community that the oximeter plays a crucial role in detecting dangerous symptoms early when every hour counts.

“Because I went in so early and my lungs were so good, I feel like it really made the world of difference and it’s so important because you don’t know,” Ogimi said.

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