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A young Phoenix-area physician who was given a nearly 100 percent mortality expectation from COVID-19 has made an extraordinary recovery thanks to a last-resort, lifesaving medical intervention at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. After nearly two months of being hospitalized, Dr. Karl Viddal was released today from St. Joseph’s and reunited with his wife and three young children.
“I can’t wait to see my wife and kids after spending almost eight weeks in the hospital. It’s hard to believe this happened to me. I’m young and without any past medical issues, and this virus nearly ended my life,” said Dr. Viddal, 46, who was in top health prior to contracting COVID-19. “The nurses and doctors have been incredible. They’ve literally saved my life. I’m so grateful to the medical team that cared for me. They literally had to navigate through uncharted waters. If it wasn’t for their early interventions, I wouldn’t have made it. They gave me a second chance!”
Doctors are calling Dr. Viddal’s recovery ‘remarkable’ after having spent 28 days in a medically induced coma, 34 days on a ventilator and a total of 55 days in the hospital fighting for his life. They credit a lifesaving intervention called ECMO for his significant outcome.
ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Essentially, these machines take over and do the work of failing lungs. Very few hospitals have an ECMO program. Dr. Viddal was the 32nd patient in the United States and the second in Arizona to be placed on ECMO therapy for COVID-19. He spent 16 days on ECMO—more than any other COVID-19 patient on the lifesaving machine in Arizona. Dr. Viddal faced nearly 100 percent mortality within 24 to 48 hours if not for the immediate and lifesaving ECMO intervention. He’s believed to be among the nation’s most critically ill COVID-19 patients to make such an incredible recovery.
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