Doctors and nurses at Palmetto General Hospital erupted into cheers as Johnny Villegas Gonzales was released from the ICU.
“He’s eating and he’s walking,” said Dr. Alex Morizio, Intensive Care Unit Specialist. “His mind is fully functioning.”
The 36-year-old spent six weeks in intensive care after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in March.
Morizio says the situation was critical from the start.
“He was placed on life support that same day,” the doctor said.
Morizio says things turned around when doctors used a convalescent plasma infusion, which is blood used from someone who tested negative after having the virus.
“Within 48 hours, there was definitely excellent improvement,” Morizio.
Morizio says it’s a method they’ve been using on most of their COVID-19 patients.
He says about half who get the treatment improve right away.
“That is definitely showing some great benefit to certain populations of patients with the coronavirus,” he said.
Morizio and other doctors are encouraging anyone who’s recovered to give blood.
“Once they become negative, there are places definitely where they can donate blood,” he said.
It’s a treatment he says saved Villegas Gonzalez’s life.
“For him to make it and now go home and be with his wife and family, that’s an amazing feeling,” Morizio said.