CHICAGO (CBS)– At just 25 years old, Jason Barbosa knows what it’s like to live and to very nearly die.
He survived COVID-19 and his journey is far from over.
With a new surge in COVID cases, Jason has a message. He says COVID is still a deadly threat and we all must take it seriously.
“It was a scariest thing ever that has ever happened to me,” He said.
Barbosa was used to being fit, a young husband and father and he was active and full of life. All of that changed last May.
“It was a Tuesday, I still went to work that night for like an hour, but I was really, really sick,” He said. ” I just couldn’t breathe no more.”
An ambulance took him to Central DuPage Hospital’s COVID unit, where doctors told him he needed a ventilator.
“I still remember during my last words to my grandparents and my parents calling them and telling them the procedures,” Barbosa said.
But that ventilator wasn’t enough, his organs were starting to fail. Desperate, his doctors had one last, and risky, option which was an “ECMO.” This a machine that would work as his’s heart and lungs, giving him time to heal.
“We stopped their heart and lungs from working and we have to have a backup plan to circulate blood, through their body,” Dr. Jonathan Tomasko, cardiac surgeon, said.
And the patient must be totally still.
“We use a paralyzing medication, which basically decreases the total amount of action that the body uses,” Dr. Jeffrey Huml, critical care physician, said.
As one problem seemed solved, others arose. Severe bleeding, infections and inflammation became issues.
“On more than one occasion we we had to consider withdrawing the life sustaining technology,” Huml said.
The doctors prepared Jason’s family to say goodbye, three separate times.
“There was not a whole lot more medically we were able to do, but we were able to wake up Jason at that point,” Tomasko said.
Barbosa pulled off something no one expected.
“He started taking big deep breaths with his lungs and he started coughing out all the blood clots and all the other sickness that was in his lungs,” Tomasko said.
But his journey would still take twists and turns. When he left the hospital, when he left the hospital, he was still very sick. He was still requiring oxygen through a tracheostomy along with other issues.
“I thought i wasn’t gonna be able to talk, no more,” Barbosa said. “The first time I tried to put my feet on the ground, I almost fell.”
But his determination is paying off. He’s been proud to show his medical team his progress.
Although it’s still tough, Barbosa says he’s happy to be back on his feet and so grateful to his doctors and nurses.
“A lot of people aren’t taking COVID seriously, they think it’s a joke, it’s a little flu, but it took me down, it took my organs down,” He said. “I almost died three times, they should really take this serious, take care of themselves.”