South Georgia man speaks after 47 days on a ventilator

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:53 AM EDT
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MOULTRIE, Ga. (WCTV) - Adolfo Montes said COVID-19 was just something he’d heard about on television, never expecting the virus to hit home. Now, after over a month on a ventilator, Montes said he’s hoping his story will help others.

Back in September, Montes and his wife both began feeling sick. Eventually, his wife started feeling better, and his condition got worse.

“I couldn’t breathe,” said Montes recalling the experience.

He came to the hospital and that’s when he was told he had COVID.

“We were so afraid of COVID because the doctors, they told us that this virus is very dangerous and they told us also that his condition was not good. His lungs were very sick,” said Dana Carvallo, Adolfo’s wife.

Critical care attending Dr. Frederick Powell said Montes was placed on a mechanical ventilator; a measure he’s seen too often with COVID patients specifically, during the Delta surge. Dr. Powell shared that many unvaccinated patients come in and quickly take a turn for the worst. He said that the hospital tried other less invasive measures to improve Montes’ condition first, but when he continued to struggle with the virus, he ended up in the hospital ICU for 47 days.

“Miraculously over the past four or five days, this patient was discontinued from mechanical ventilation. He still has what we call a tracheostomy but is doing very well.,” said Dr. Powell.

Officials said Montes is the exception and unfortunately, not everyone will be as lucky. Just over a month ago, the 99-bed hospital was averaging over 100 patients. With only 11 ICU beds, Dr. Powell said many days critical care patients were being treated in overflow rooms.

Powell said it’s great news that Montes is progressing the way he is, but that he still has a long road of recovery ahead.

“These are the patients that make it okay, and we’re talking about 30%. So, if we take 10 patients, only three of them that we put on mechanical ventilation are going to make it,” Powell said.

Dr. Powell said that with the tracheostomy, Montes had to also have a feeding tube put in and has lost a significant amount of weight since being admitted. Officials continue to advocate for the vaccine as the best preventative measure against severe illness.

Montes said he didn’t think that he would survive, and although he continues to struggle with shortness of breath, he said he’s grateful.

“I’m very thankful for all the doctors and the nurses, and everything they did for me,” Montes said.

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