Toronto

'Don't give up,' man says to other COVID-19 patients after he spent 2 weeks on ventilator

Toronto's Humber River Hospital has posted a video on Twitter that shows the novel coronavirus can be beaten. A 53-year-old father of four is celebrating after leaving the intensive care unit following two weeks on a ventilator battling COVID-19, and the hospital is celebrating with him.

Hashim Abdallah, 53, Humber River Hospital staff celebrate his victory over virus together

Hashim Abdallah, 53, a husband and father of four, spent two weeks on a ventilator at Humber River Hospital before he was wheeled out of its intensive care unit to the cheers and applause of staff. (CBC)

For 53-year-old Hashim Abdallah, a husband and father of four, there will be a tomorrow.

Abdallah left the intensive care unit at Humber River Hospital on Friday after being on a ventilator for two weeks following a diagnosis of COVID-19. He was wheeled out of the unit to the cheers and applause of intensive-care staff lining the corridor.

He is celebrating his victory over the virus and the hospital is celebrating with him.

Abdallah says being in hospital was very difficult and he is incredibly grateful that he is on the mend.

And he has some advice for other COVID-19 patients.

"I would say, 'Don't give up,'" he said. "I would say, 'Everybody, watch yourself, be safe, this is the the coronavirus.' It's not easy. It's a very, very difficult virus."

Here is a still image from a video posted on Twitter by Humber River Hospital. It shows Hashim Abdallah in a wheelchair in the hallway of its intensive care unit. Staff are applauding him for surviving COVID-19. (CBC)

Barb Collins, president and CEO of Humber River Hospital, posted a video on Twitter of Abdallah being wheeled out of the ICU. Staff "applauded, made signs and cheered" to celebrate his success, she said.

The video has been viewed more than 4,800 times.

Abdallah says seeing the 38-second video makes him very emotional. At the start of the video, he makes a thumbs-up sign and says: "Here we go!"

Staff wearing personal protective equipment say "Great job!" and "Amazing!" They line the hallway as he is pushed in a wheelchair out of the ICU.

"Oh, it makes me cry," Abdallah said.

"Now, I'm very grateful. I'm happy," he added.

"First of all, I'm going to thank the ICU unit, everybody of them, the nurses, the doctors ... and secondly, I'll be thankful for the recovery room. Everybody I met there in Humber River was awesome."

Man had fever, cough, pain 

Abdallah said when he first came down with COVID-19, he had a fever and cough, his body was itchy all over, he was in a bit of pain and he felt weak.

"All my body, it was like that," he said.

Then it got worse. He went to the hospital and was put on a ventilator to help him breathe.

"The ventilating and the oxygen and there is a lot of hard things I cannot describe," he said.

Then after two weeks, he got good news. He was coming off the ventilator.

Abdallah said his family is thrilled that he is back home and they cried when they saw him. 

"They couldn't believe that I woke up from everything. They were very happy," he said.

Hospital 'delighted' to celebrate COVID-19 patient

In a statement on Wednesday to CBC Toronto, Collins said the hospital is "delighted" to cheer Abdallah's success.

"Our teams at Humber River Hospital are working tirelessly to support patients who have been affected by COVID-19. These patients vary in age, in health condition, and have varying degrees of COVID-19 severity, making it a very stressful and exhausting time for everyone," Collins said.

"Having a moment like this, where a patient comes off of ventilation and becomes well enough to leave our ICU, is incredibly exciting and restorative for everyone," she added. 

"Our team was delighted to come together to celebrate Hashim, a loving father of four who has survived this devastating disease."

A total of 504 people have died of COVID-19 in Toronto and there are 391 people in hospital with 99 in intensive care units.

A total of 4,273 people have recovered, the city reported on Wednesday. And Abdallah, who is now recovering at home, is very happy he's one of them.

"Very grateful. I thank God and I thank Humber River Hospital," he said.

With files from Natalie Kalata

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