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His first thought was, “Oh, no.” When 52-year-old PVH laboratory technician Vic Sevilla woke up on the morning of April 23 with a low-grade fever and shortness of breath, he feared the worst. He took a trip to the PVH ER to get tested for COVID-19. This initial test showed negative, so he went back home to rest. But later that day his symptoms worsened. “My brother told me that I looked like hell, so my youngest sister called 911.” Upon his second trip to the ER, he was tested again and had a CAT scan performed on his lungs. This time the test showed positive for Corona Virus SARS-CoV-2, and the scan showed that he had inflammation and fluid in the lungs. Soon after, he found himself transferred to the ICU and intubated. From that point on his memory becomes foggy as he spent the next six weeks in and out of consciousness.

Vic has worked in the PVH Lab department for 25 years, starting as a phlebotomist in 1996. Although he practiced a healthy lifestyle and made sure to be conscious of his diet and exercise five days a week, he understood the nature of the virus, that it was something new that the human body had no defense against. “I was completely healthy. I’m not a diabetic, and I’m not hypertensive. And I was really careful about using my PPE and practicing correct hygiene. But it still got me!” Vic continued, “Dr. Tabila, my pulmonologist, told me that if I wasn’t in the shape I was in, I probably wouldn’t have survived.”

Vic wasn’t the only member of his family to be victimized by the virus. His mother and two sisters were also infected. While his mother and younger sister managed to weather the infection at home, Vic and his older sister had to be hospitalized. His older sister survived the ordeal also and was in-house with Vic at the tail-end of their stay. All three of the siblings are healthcare workers, and his two sisters work as CNAs.

Although he can’t recall much from his hospitalization, he did have moments of clarity. “It was very hard to keep fighting,” said Vic, “At times, I wanted to give up. ‘Just let me go,’ I would think. But then I would hear a voice tell me, ‘No! We won’t let you go!’ I don’t know if I imagined that, but it was like an angel talking to me. The nurses in the ICU were so good. They were my angels!”

Vic survived—he considers himself lucky. He was intubated and on a vent, and yet he pulled through. It’s been his experience that a lot of the COVID patients he sees who are intubated don’t survive. He did not survive COVID-19 unscathed, though. Like some who survive the disease, there are long-lasting health issues they are left with. In Vic’s case, it is a partial amputation. Vic developed a blood clot in his lower-right leg. He avoided an amputation above the knee because his physicians were able to surgically remove the clot in time to allow his vessels to recover. However, half of his right foot had to be removed. “I have to do rehab to learn how to stand and walk again.”

As Vic was discharged, fellow PVH staff lined the halls and a large crowd gathered outside the front lobby to wish him farewell with balloons, signs, tears, and smiles. This was the accumulation of 25 years of friendship and loyalty to his PVH family. “I’m very lucky,” Vic repeated, “Very lucky.”