When Teo Praslin started running a fever in April 2020, he promptly got tested for COVID-19. Two of his co-workers had been diagnosed with the virus, already, so he knew he was at risk. Though Teo tested positive, he was initially well enough to return home, where he quarantined in a separate area of the family home to keep his loved ones as safe as possible.
Over the coming days, though, Teo felt steadily worse. His wife, Maria, rushed him to our emergency department (but was unable to come into the hospital with him, as a result of safety protocols during the pandemic). By the time he reached us, Teo was very sick. He does not remember much of his arrival at the hospital. “I apparently called Maria to tell her goodbye,” he says. “It was worse than anything I’ve ever had. I thought I was going to die.”
Teo was quickly admitted for inpatient care. As the virus continued to take its toll on his body, he was placed on a ventilator. His heart and kidneys began to fail and he lost consciousness. Not able to be with Teo, Maria was now even more afraid for him: His two co-workers had died of their infections.
Thanks to our use of the latest care techniques from the outset of the pandemic, Teo’s immunologist was able to offer convalescent plasma therapy — which involves administering blood products with antibodies from patients who have recovered from the virus. When the needed plasma became available and we started the therapy, Teo’s condition began to improve.
Even as our team members work relentlessly to save the lives of patients with COVID-19, we also recognize the importance of keeping loved ones informed. Throughout Teo’s care here, the Praslins valued this extra level of effort and compassion. “Everyone took the time to answer my questions,” Maria says. “The doctors called me every morning, and I talked to the nurses on every shift. We felt really supported.”
We also understand how important it is to lift patient spirits, in ways that help in healing. When Maria and the children created a poster for Teo’s nurses, thanking them for their care, the nurses in turn made a poster for Teo — and hung it in his hospital room. On it, they wrote inspiring messages, urging Teo to keep fighting and getting stronger. “He still has it on the wall in our home,” says Maria, “and it still encourages him.”
As Teo began the long road to recovery, he regained consciousness, but remained paralyzed. Later, when he was well enough, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center, where he received care for an additional three weeks. Though he was still using a wheelchair when he returned home, he is now walking again, and his recovery continues: “I still have to do dialysis twice a week, but I’m back at work. I can think and live,” he says. “That’s what’s important.”
Adds Maria, “I wish I could go in and thank each doctor, nurse and staff member at Huntington Hospital, in person. The whole team was amazing.”