Home Breaking News Chandler’s Doctor Survives COVID-19 After 55 Days In Hospital

Chandler’s Doctor Survives COVID-19 After 55 Days In Hospital


Dr. Karl Viddal, 46, started showing symptoms of coronavirus after returning from a trip abroad about two months ago. His symptoms started with a cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath, but as they got worse, he went to the emergency room and was admitted.

Viddal, who works in an independent practice in Chandler, was released from hospital on Friday after fighting COVID-19 in the past 55 days.

The doctor underwent three false negative tests after being admitted to the hospital because the virus was “so deep in his lungs that it did not appear in the nasal cavity for a while,” according to a statement. press from St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. . He was finally tested positive using a bronchoscopy sample.

Dr. Karl Viddal kisses his three children after being in hospital for 55 days with COVID-19. (Photo: courtesy of Dignity Healthy St. Joseph’s Medical Center)

“It is hard to believe that this really happened to me”

Viddal has never seen the disease because he is a healthy 46-year-old man.

“I have never been sick in my life, really. I have no past health problems, “said Viddal.

He thanked the doctors, nurses and staff at the St. Joseph Medical Center for saving his life. Doctors risked daily exposure, said Viddal.

“Without this incredible team of doctors, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” said Viddal. “They gave me a second chance to be a father, a husband. “

Karl Viddal with doctors from St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center (Photo: courtesy of Dignity Healthy St. Joseph’s Medical Center)

Viddal was “literally paralyzed” due to COVID-19 and could not speak or move until just three weeks after waking up from a coma, he said. He entered an inpatient rehabilitation center 11 days ago where he was able to walk alone again.

“It was almost doubtful that I would fully recover. The physiotherapists and occupational therapists worked with me and I was playing hockey yesterday in the therapy room, “said Viddal.

Only Viddal’s lungs were affected by the coronavirus, causing pneumonia and making it difficult for him to breathe on his own. He is thankful that his heart, liver and kidneys are in good shape.

“I am optimistic, I will fully recover. I am able to walk now and I am no longer on oxygen, ”said Viddal. There is no way of knowing if the virus has had long-term effects on him without further testing, he said.

As a doctor, Viddal said he was able to watch his vital signs everyday and that he knew he was fine. His doctors also showed him his x-rays during his treatment.

“It was really interesting to be on the other side of things,” said Viddal.

The ventilator was not enough to save him, he needed special therapy to survive

Viddal was hospitalized at Dignity Health Mercy-Gilbert on March 22 and placed on a ventilator due to pneumonia caused by the virus. Doctors quickly realized that a ventilator would not be enough and decided to place Viddal on the oxygenation of the extracorporeal membrane (also known as ECMO), said Dr. Ross Bremner, director of Norton Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Thoracic Institute.

ECMO is a treatment often used for patients awaiting a lung transplant. It allows the lungs to rest, acting as an “artificial lung” while the body heals the lungs, said Bremner. Therapy oxygenates the blood outside the body so that blood does not get through the damaged lungs. The tubes carry blood through the body to an external artificial lung which removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen to be pumped into the body via an artificial heart.

“It is very rare that patients get sick enough that the ventilators don’t save them,” said Bremner.

Viddal was then transported while at ECMO to Dignity Health St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center on March 30 where he received treatment as part of the ECMO program at the St. Thoracic Institute Norton of St. Joseph. The center specializes in the treatment of lung diseases and conditions.

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Viddal was the second patient in Arizona to be placed on ECMO to treat coronavirus, and the 32nd case in the United States, said Dr. Raed Suyyagh, medical director of the ECMO program at the St. Joseph’s Thoracic Institute.

Only five centers in Arizona offer ECMO treatment and this “requires a lot of resources”. Patients must also meet certain criteria to ensure the safety of treatment, said Suyyagh.

A Phoenix man was the first COVID-19 patient in Arizona to survive using ECMO therapy for 10 days.

Viddal would have died within days without treatment, said Suyyagh.

He spent 16 days on ECMO therapy, “more than any other COVID-19 patient on the rescue machine in Arizona,” according to a press release. The chances of survival on ECMO are around 50%, said Bremner.

“During the first week or 10 days, it was really tricky,” said Bremner.

Viddal was also placed in a medically induced coma for 28 days during his treatment. He faced complications such as blood clots, bleeding into the lungs, and air leakage into the lungs that required multiple “at risk” procedures during the ECMO, Suyyagh said.

“He was a healthy young doctor, a husband and father of three. COVID-19 has made him one of the sickest patients in the United States, “said Suyyagh.

“It’s the first day of the rest of my life”

Viddal warns those returning to work that Governor Ducey’s stay at home expires Friday to maintain social distance and follow CDC directives.

“Some people are lucky and have the worst cold or flu symptoms. But it’s a virus that will kill you. We don’t know who it will affect, ”said Viddal.

He wants to remind people to wear masks and protect themselves and others when they leave their homes.

He never thought he would get the virus. He thinks this is why people should be aware of the risks and possibilities of the virus.

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Viddal is delighted to find his wife and three children whom he has not seen in 55 days.

Going through this experience will change him as a person, he said. When he went to the emergency room, he didn’t think it was going to happen to him.

“It is a humiliating experience,” said Viddal.

He thanks his friends and family for their support and love during his fight for recovery. His wife also fell ill with the less serious virus, but had to take care of their three children alone.

Viddal has a new vision of life, he will treat each day as his last and enjoy life.

“You never know when your last day will be,” said Viddal.

Contact press reporter Alyssa Stoney at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @stoney_alyssa.

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