(CNN) -- Ena Zizi was participating in a prayer group at the national cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when the structure came down on her during the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the island on January 12.
In New York, meanwhile, her son, Maxim Janvier, had no way of knowing what befell her other than she was missing.
Miraculously, the 70-year-old Zizi survived seven days trapped under the rubble before she was rescued by international search crews this week. A person can, give or take, expect to survive 72 hours trapped without water or food. Zizi managed to hold on for twice as long, something that experts say speaks to the body's resilience in times of danger. It is possible for a healthy person to survive more than 10 days in some cases, experts say.
"I wasn't surprised. I knew she would live through that. She is a tough woman," Janvier said, recalling when he heard the news, via a CNN tip, that his mother had been found. Earlier, he had used CNN's Web site to enter his mother's name, age and approximate location in hope of someone identifying her.
Zizi has since been moved to a medical facility aboard the USS Bataan, and now her son is seeking help moving her to a hospital in Florida for further treatment.
"I haven't given up hope," Janvier told CNN. "It's God's sign to me that I will have another chance to see my mom."
A CNN crew captured video of Tuesday's rescue.
After hours of careful extraction by rescue crews from Germany, South Africa and Mexico, Zizi was carried from the rubble on a wooden board as she grasped the edges, her face covered in dust.
"Thank God! Thank God!" she exclaimed as she was pulled out, the video shows.
"Thanks to teamwork we were able to take this woman that prayed and prayed, and I believe that her faith that is so big was the thing that saved her," one of the Mexican rescuers said.
iReport: Search list of the missing and the found
Janvier said he has no doubt that his mother's faith played a role in her survival.
"Definitely, no question. Everyone was praying," he said.
By her side as Zizi was freed, her friends from the church cheered and prayed, Janvier said.
The life-long Port-au-Prince resident was undergoing surgery aboard the USS Bataan, Janvier said. She was reported to have suffered a fractured femur in the quake.