PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The coronavirus has killed nearly 10,000 people in the United States, and while the scope of loss is difficult to digest, it’s important to shine a light on the glimmers of hope. This weekend, Penn Presbyterian released its first patient with COVID-19 to come off a ventilator.
“He’s like, ‘Was there ever a time you thought that I wasn’t going to make it?’ And I said, ‘Yes, there was,'” Kelly DeWan said.
It began at a birthday dinner for two of Mike DeWan’s daughters — a family affair that turned viral.
“Mike started with symptoms on Monday. By Wednesday, I had them,” Kelley DeWan said. “My daughters had them. My parents had them and his parents had them so everyone by midweek was sick.”
Mike DeWan was admitted on March 14 and moved to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center shortly thereafter. His condition worsened and it appeared he’d have to be intubated as his lungs deteriorated.
“The lung doctor came in and said, ‘This X-ray looks bad,'” he said. “I said, ‘Bad? I’m 43 years old, I don’t smoke, I don’t do nothing.’ And he said, ‘This will get worse before it gets better.'”
The survival rate for patients put on ventilators is about 20%, Norwell Health CEO Mike Dowling said Sunday on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
Dr. William Short was one of DeWan’s doctors at Penn Presbyterian, where their ventilator survival rate before DeWan was zero.
‘I think it was not so much that him being put on the ventilator, what was the problem was, he had really diffused damage to his lungs,” Short said.
DeWan spent the next 17 days on a ventilator, while his wife kept the family running all while fighting the coronavirus herself.
“I tried to shield the girls as much as I could,” she said. “They knew he was sick. I just kept saying, ‘He’s on a machine to help him.'”
“Really, there was not much to offer him at that time, except maybe getting him compassionate use of certain drugs, which I did,” Short said.
Short tried an approved compassionate use of an antiviral that was ineffective in fighting the Ebola virus, but they found success in treating DeWan.
Short cautions they aren’t positive it was solely the antiviral that did it.
DeWan woke up after a 10-day cycle on the antiviral.
He’s the first COVID-19 patient at Penn Presbyterian to make it off a ventilator alive.
“I walked past his room and he was sitting him in a chair. I had to take a double, I walked back and I saw him actually sitting. I waved at him, I’m waving, showing him that I was happy. He just kept looking, giving me a thumbs up. He had no idea who I was,” Short said.
“And like I said when everyone was knocking, thumbs up,” DeWan said, “and when I left the ICU, everyone was like, ‘good luck.’ And it was very nice.”
It was a much-needed win for the medical community. And for a family that is now clear of COVID-19 that is happy to have dad home.
“I think I’m still processing everything, but I’ll tell you, it’s great to be home,” he said.