SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio man is sharing his story to inspire others to get vaccinated after battling COVID-19 for more than 120 days in the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospital.
“I really encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated,” said Carlos Gonzalez.
The 34-year-old contracted the virus in February when the vaccine wasn’t available for his specific age group.
“My daughter went to a birthday party and got sick,” Gonzalez said. “She came home, and my oldest daughter got sick, and then my wife. I took three tests, and on the third test, I tested positive, but I had no symptoms.”
Gonzalez said he was acting as his family’s caretaker.
“I was feeling perfectly fine until one day I got out of breath,” Gonzalez said. “I called the hospital, and then I got admitted, and that is all I remember.”
Gonzalez said it was a hard journey. He experienced many medications, pain and was constantly out of breath.
He stayed on ECMO life support for one of the longest periods a patient has ever need to be hooked up to a mechanical pump to oxygenate blood.
“It was hard, especially for all the medical staff and what they had to go through in there,” he said.
With the help of his family, supportive staff and a woman named Amy Velez, Gonzalez knew he had to fight.
Velez was also in the same situation as Gonzalez, but she recovered after spending over 100 days on ECMO life support.
“I met him, and I spoke to him, and I said, ‘You could do this. God has your back. I’ll keep praying for you,’” said Velez.
On July 29, Gonzalez was discharged with a big celebration from hospital staff after learning to walk and talk again.
Gonzalez is glad to be alive and warning others before it’s too late.
“It is a miracle that I am alive,” he said. “If I had the chance to get the vaccine before all this, I wouldn’t have second-guessed it. I would have got it. My wife and daughter have been vaccinated. I think people should get their vaccine to avoid going through what I went through.”