A bus driver from East Jerusalem who was hospitalized on March 5, and attached to a respirator after he contracted the coronavirus, on Monday was released from hospital, after recovering.
“It’s been a very difficult month, the hardest month of my life,” the man, who has been identified only as Johnny said on his discharge from the Baruch Padeh Medical Center in Tiberias. “Initially, I was connected to oxygen. I couldn’t even get out of bed.” Johnny was the first patient in Israel to be designated in serious condition with the virus. Sixteen Israelis have since died.
At one stage during the driver’s treatment, the hospital said Johnny was treated with Remdesivir, which was originally developed for Ebola and is made by US biotech company Gilead Sciences. It is considered to be one of the most promising of treatments for coronavirus. No further details have been given regarding other therapies used in the man’s treatment.
Johnny, 38, headed home Monday evening, to be reunited with his wife and three children, aged 10, 2, and 7 months.
“I haven’t seen baby Alex in over a month, it’s so difficult,” he said. “The first thing I want to do now is to go home to see my kids. I really miss the family — they are now also in isolation, and are not leaving the house.”
Johnny was hospitalized after he late last month chauffeured a group of 23 Greek tourists, who were later confirmed to be infected. At least one of the tourists subsequently died from the virus.
The driver was admitted to the Tiberias hospital suffering from high fever and having trouble breathing, and was quickly placed in quarantine. The East Jerusalem resident became the country’s first patient designated as being in serious condition from the disease, and was suffering from acute pneumonia and high fever.
At one stage, Johnny’s condition deteriorated further, and he was unconscious and attached to a respirator.
“When I got to the hospital, I felt bad, but I didn’t imagine it was coronavirus,” he said. “The next day, the whole team that treated me was wearing robes and masks. When the doctor explained to me that the test was positive, I got dizzy, very scared. The next day, they explained to me that they needed to connect me to the ventilator and put me to sleep. I was very worried, I was afraid to die.”
“I feel that this team saved my life. It is only through them that I can stand on my feet again,” Johnny said.