McLennan County's first COVID-19 patient has been released from a Waco hospital after a 25-day stay, 15 of which he spent on a ventilator.

Julie Hays with our partners at News 10 reports that 27-year-old Michael Lopez was admitted to Ascension Providence Hospital on March 16 after returning from a trip to Europe. He wasn't discharged until late last week.

Lopez first experienced symptoms while in London on March 7. He'd been travelling with his younger sister to celebrate her upcoming birthday.

When he got home, his family took him to be tested for COVID-19. Before his test results even came back, he was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia and placed in the ICU. Within hours, he had to decide whether or not to be placed on a ventilator. Lopez told Hays he called his father for advice on the decision, which was not an easy one for him or his family to make.

After that, he says, it's all a blank. He doesn't remember most of his time in the hospital. Since being released, he's been in isolation as a precaution, and must monitor his oxygen and other vitals.

Lopez tells Hays he had no underlying conditions, which meant he wasn't considered to be a high risk for complications. Thankfully, he was able to make it out alive. During his stay, he was treated with anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and a Z-PAC, and spent his stay in a Rota bed. (Rota beds are used to place pulmonary patients in a prone position and provide kinetic therapy.)

When it comes to social distancing and staying home if possible, Lopez is very much in favor of it both.

"Trust me you do not want to go what I went through so if you can stay home, stay home," Michael told Hays.

Check out the video above for more about Lopez's experience and video of his discharge day.

Lopez's story hits close to home for me. Back in autumn of 2015, my mother spent a little over two months in a medically induced coma in the ICU hooked up to a ventilator, where she was treated for a nasty case of pneumonia. She lives with me now, and it took the better part of a year for us to get her walking on her own again, doing simple tasks, and being able to breathe on her own again.

The thought of her contracting COVID-19 absolutely terrifies me, and we've been quarantining since mid-March. She's definitely at high risk.

When you stay home or do your best to practice social distancing and frequent hand washing, you're helping keep my mom safe. You're helping save her life. I can't thank you enough for that. I consider you a hero, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.



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