‘Mom, I’m afraid,’ seriously ill virus patient, 22, said before being sedated

Woman tells media she can’t bear to see her son connected to ventilator, says his case is a warning to young people who think they are not in danger from coronavirus

Illustrative: A doctor checks a medical ventilator control panel while wearing protective clothing at the Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, March 16, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Illustrative: A doctor checks a medical ventilator control panel while wearing protective clothing at the Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, March 16, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The mother of a seriously ill 22-year-old coronavirus patient, whose condition rapidly deteriorated to the point where doctors put  him on a ventilator, told media Sunday that her son had spoken of his fears before being tranquilized.

The man, who has not been named in media reports, had no preexisting medical issues when he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

A resident of the southern port city of Ashdod, he was hospitalized last Wednesday and by the following day was no longer able to stand or take a shower, his mother told the Ynet news site.

On Saturday he was given oxygen, his mother said, and in a phone call to her admitted, “Mom, I’m afraid.”

By Sunday morning, due to his rapidly deteriorating condition and increasing difficulty breathing, doctors at the Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital made the decision to sedate him and hook him up to a ventilator.

The woman said that she, her husband, and their daughter, are all in quarantine since they found out her son has the virus.

She said that although the hospital asked if she wanted to come and see him, she turned down the offer, explaining that seeing her son connected to the ventilator would be too traumatic.

“I am unable to, I can’t go and see him with that machine [the ventilator],” she said.

“I told them it is difficult for me and that I am shaking all over,” she said. “I am afraid I will go to pieces there. I prefer to remember him as he was.”

The mother explained that her son had recently been in the US with two friends, touring in Miami and then Las Vegas. The three returned to the country earlier this month and the man immediately went into home quarantine in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines. By last Wednesday, as his temperature rose despite taking medication, he was taken to the hospital.

Both the man’s traveling companions have also been diagnosed with COVID-19, and are in good condition, one in the hospital and another in a specially designated quarantine hotel, according to the report.

“The whole world is saying that [the virus] doesn’t harm young people,” the patient’s mother said. “People think it is a game, but he was very responsible and from the flight came straight home. It was important to him to be careful and responsible toward those around him.”

Ami Mayo, head of the intensive care unit at Assuta, told Ynet that the patient had light symptoms initially but he quickly deteriorated, with severe difficulty in breathing and a drop in oxygen levels in his blood.

Mayo said medical staff tried noninvasive means for 24 hours but the man’s condition became serious so rapidly that the decision was made on Sunday morning to sedate him.

Of the 15 people to die so far in Israel from the coronavirus, 13 were over the age of 70. An 82-year-old Israeli man in Italy also died of the disease.

As of Sunday morning, there have been 3,865 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel. According to the Health Ministry, 66 people are in serious condition, including 54 who were breathing with the help of ventilators. Another 82 people were in moderate condition, while the rest had minor symptoms.

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