A 32-year-old who had been sickened with COVID-19 and hospitalized for months finally emerged from Centinela Hospital in a wheelchair Thursday following treatment, and isolation from his loved ones.
Michael Orantes received a rousing welcome home, as family and friends cheered for him as he embraced the outside world for the first time in three months. Most of his time was spent in intensive care.
"This moment is super exciting for us," his sister Edith Orantes said.
Nurse practitioner Ana Carchi vividly remembers the first week in April when Michael arrived, struggling to breathe.
"We honestly didn't think he was going to make it. He was very sick," she said.
Medical staff tried every option to avoid having to resort to a ventilator, from which some patients never return.
"As we know it's been a long struggle," said Dr. Paryus Patel, Centinela Hospital Chief Medical Officer. "What Michael went through was a catastrophic storm," Patel said.
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Dr. Patel explained that this was one of those especially challenging cases in which great harm comes from the body's own extreme immune response causing, among other complications, damage to his lungs.
"Literally we prayed day and night," Edith said.
Michael remained on the ventilator more than two months.
"The numbers of the pressures to ventilate him and keep him going were astronomical," Patel said.
Michael's constitution strong enough to take it.
"Michael is a miracle," his father said in Spanish.
The family gave thanks not only to Centinela's healthcare team, but also to a higher power watching over him.
"I just want to thank God for this miracle of giving us back Michael," Edith said.
He was working on starting his own construction company and just back from a trip to Spain when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Michael still requires assistance with breathing. He faces a long and challenging recovery, but now at last has the option to be at home with his family.