“I’M one extremely fortunate individual. My recovery was nothing short of miraculous,” exclaimed COVID-19 patient David Klein. The Melbourne father-of-five is grateful to The Alfred Hospital and the Jewish community for getting him through his life-threatening ordeal.
After two weeks of bad coughing, Klein, 56, of Melbourne, who works in IT at NAB, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. “It took on a life of its own … I started to feel very under the weather … I literally couldn’t move,” he related to The AJN.
His wife Miriam called an ambulance and he was taken to The Alfred. “They started by giving me oxygen, but after a few hours when they saw that wasn’t helping, they said they were putting me on a ventilator and I was on that for a bit more than four weeks.
“I was unable to walk, couldn’t write, initially couldn’t talk. It was a very frightening experience, not knowing whether any of those things would recover. My speech came back after about two days. But being able to walk, that took quite a few weeks. I couldn’t get out of bed by myself. It was pretty shocking.”
After three weeks on the ventilator, a professor at The Alfred told Klein’s family he was not improving, continuous assisted ventilation was removing flexibility from his lungs and “if they keep me on the ventilator, it would kill me”. He was transferred to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine which oxygenates the bloodstream. He was on the ECMO machine for two weeks, spending the first week on both the ECMO and the ventilator.
Klein was given a 30 per cent chance of survival. After six weeks in ICU and a week in an isolation ward, he was sent home under The Alfred’s Better-At-Home program, with constant visits by medical nursing staff and physiotherapists.
“Thank God I have completely recovered,” said Klein, who has now returned multiple negative readings for COVID-19.
Around the time he became ill, other family members – including his wife Miriam, and sons Benji, Yoni, Gavriel, Ari and Zevi – contracted COVID-19, some of them confined to bed with flu-like symptoms and lethargy, all later recovering.
Klein, who belongs to Kollel Beth HaTalmud, said he could not have pulled through without the practical and spiritual support of the Melbourne Jewish community. An array of people organised sessions to recite tehillim (psalms for healing), students organised a 96-hour prayer and study marathon to support him and “countless people helped in all sorts of ways”.
“People should not bury their heads in the sand and say this is a media or a political beat-up,” he said of COVID-19. “Having lived through it, I can say it is definitely not.”