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A 74-year-old New York City surgeon who suffered from a "severe form" of the new coronavirus and was on a ventilator twice told "Fox & Friends First" on Tuesday said he is “about 70 percent to a full recovery.”
Dr. Manuel Bulauitan has been able to survive against all odds under the care of his three sons, who are also doctors.
“I am doing fine and I’m almost there with my physical therapy and occupational therapy going on,” Bulauitan said on Tuesday.
His age, previous medical history, including chronic anemia and hypertension, and two intubations, put Bulauitan in danger. His three sons rushed to his side after learning in mid-March that Bulauitan was sick. Two of his sons, Dr. Philippe Bulauitan and Dr. Manuel Bulauitan Jr., both family medicine doctors in North Carolina, flew to his bedside on March 20.
They took him to Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where the oldest son, Major Dr. Constantine Bulauitan, an Army Reserve and trauma surgeon, works. He was there during his father's monthlong struggle to survive.
“It was extremely difficult, especially in my position,” Major Dr. Constantine Bulauitan said, standing with his team at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
“I wanted to really intervene as a trauma surgeon, as a military person, but I had faith and trust in the team right here behind me… their dedication coming in day in and day out regardless of who they were taking care of really is a testament to my dad’s outcome and of course the outcome of the patients who come in here day in and day out with this horrible virus.”
He added, “Everyone here is a family and it was really their support that helped me and our family get through.”
Dr. Eric Costanzo, a critical care physician who helped treat Constantine’s father said Manuel “was severely ill with something that we call ARDS 9 (acute respiratory distress syndrome), acute respiratory failure, [it was] very hard to oxygenate him.”
“He was on the respirator with maximum settings and he really pulled through,” he continued.
Costanzo went on to say that “his family had faith in us and we worked tirelessly with good critical care to get him through this process.”
Manuel met the qualifications for compassionate care as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and was able to get a cocktail of experimental medications, including hydroxychloroquine.
The surgeon doesn't know when he contracted COVID-19, but it could've been at one of the hospitals or nursing homes where he worked, right up until he started showing signs.
Dr. Philippe Bulauitan said that his mother also contracted COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized for a couple of days. He said when she returned home he and his brother Manuel Bulauitan Jr. were taking care of her and also tested positive for COVID-19 shortly thereafter.
Manuel Bulauitan Jr. described his symptoms: “I started off with a dry cough, followed by pretty bad backache and body aches. I never quite had a fever, but it got a little difficult to breathe briefly.”
He added that “it was a bit difficult just seeing what our family was going through.”
Bulauitan Jr. went on to note that they all knew they had to stay strong and “get through it all together.”
Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.