“It sounds like a dream,” the patient’s mother, Cecilia Amador, told reporters outside Scripps Memorial Hospital on Genesee Avenue in La Jolla.
The hospital had housed his son, Eduardo Moreno, since his admission on July 9, 2020 – eight very, very long months.
Against her tears, Amador said she couldn’t believe that after all – including three months in a coma and three surgeries – Moreno was coming home.
“He succeeded,” she says. ” He’s there; he walks. He remembers everything. It is 100%. ”
Moreno, in a wheelchair and wearing a face mask, sat quietly next to his mother after being released on Tuesday. It was a moving day – a lot to go through after all he had been through.
“We’re coming home, thank goodness,” Amador said.
Moreno’s shipment from Scripps Memorial Hospital was filled with balloons, cheers and many nurses holding signs to say goodbye to the man they had come to know and love over the past 8 month.
“Congratulations, Eduardo. You are a fighter, ”said one panel.
“Graduated from ECMO. You did it! Read another.
Moreno walked through the hall, through an arch made of white and light blue balloons. A colored paper link chain hung at the end of the path. Fortunately Moreno pierced him.
It was the finish line of a medical marathon.
The nurses and hospital staff encouraged him.
He was wearing a mask, but in his eyes you could see traces of a smile.
His mother was there to take him home.
Eduardo’s long fight against COVID-19
Moreno contracted COVID-19 in late June 2020 or early July 2020. He was hospitalized for the first time on July 13, 2020. Six days later, he was transferred to the intensive care unit of the Scripps Memorial Hospital.
Things didn’t look good to him.
“He was very critical,” recalls his mother. “They told us he was not going to make it.”
Dr. Scott McCaul, MD, is the Medical Director of Scripps ICU and ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation). He has been an intensive care pulmonary physician at Scripps since 1987.
McCaul was one of Moreno’s main doctors. He said the young man’s case – and his determination to survive – was nothing short of a miracle.
“It’s a phenomenal recovery – and a lot of work on his part,” said McCaul.
McCaul said Moreno – at his worst – was completely dependent on machines for survival. When he arrived in the ICU, Moreno was suffering from an advanced degree of respiratory failure due to pneumonia linked to COVID.
« [He had] destructive changes in his lungs – and the tubes needed to allow his lungs to expand, ”the doctor explained.
Moreno was put on life support and machines resumed his lung function.
McCaul said his patient had to, essentially, “learn to breathe underwater” and use a machine to do what his lungs used to do, but “without being able to feel the breath.”
Moreno survived several surgeries. Little by little, McCaul said that Moreno had come out of paralysis, sedation – coma – to stand, walk and regain his physical ability.
Through it all, mental and physical exhaustion was a struggle. McCaul said there was anxiety and pain – but also an incredible struggle in his patient.
Moreno’s nurses and doctors supported him every step of the way.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Moreno’s family has mostly had to stick to virtually “visiting” him via video calls.
“Physical contact was so rare,” McCaul said.
Amador said being away from her son when he was so sick was the hardest thing for her as a parent.
She cried a lot.
She prayed more.
“He’s been through a lot. His lungs were bleeding. He had a blood clot in his head, ”Amador explained.
When she couldn’t be there to comfort her son, Amador said nurses and doctors came together for him like family.
Amador said the nurses “spoiled him” – even bringing him In-n-Out burgers once or twice.
Moreno got stronger.
Along the way, there have been setbacks.
McCaul said December – just around Christmas – was one of those times. Moreno has set goals for himself – his wish list for Christmas.
“Eduardo’s goals for Christmas included learning to talk on the fan, walking 100 feet, making a video for his daughter, eating his mother’s albondigas,” recalls McCaul.
“My most emotional moment was probably being in his room and looking at all the personal items – the things that really made Eduardo himself in this room,” the doctor added. “The Christmas tree that the nurses brought there and knowing those goals were closed.”
But Moreno continued to fight, going through another operation.
After this last operation, her mother said that McCaul finally told her, “Don’t worry, he’s going to come home.”
In January 2021, McCaul said Moreno’s lungs were healed enough that he was disconnected from the machines.
McCaul said that through it all, Moreno has shown everyone at the hospital that even though something is difficult or seems impossible, it is possible to go through it.
“He is a role model for all of us,” he added.
Since the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County a year ago, San Diego County public health officials have followed 267,917 positive cases of COVID-19 in our area. A total of 3,494 COVID-related deaths have been reported in San Diego County. For the latest daily updates on the coronavirus crisis in our region, click here.