Orlando Health's first COVID-19 convalescent plasma recipient reaches major milestones in recovery process

More encouraging news on Michael Kevin Rathel.  

He’s the 52-year-old Orlando man who was the first COVID-19 patient to receive treatment with plasma from a survivor of the virus.  

“The latest is he Facetimed me this morning. He has come out of ICU. He has been put into a step-down COVID unit,” Stacie Rathel, his wife, told FOX 35 News. “All the bloodwork looks fantastic, which is amazing. All he’s there for now is physical and occupational rehab. He passed the swallow test. He’s on a clear liquid diet right now.”

These are all major milestones.  

On April 4, doctors put Michael in a medically-induced coma. 

At midnight on April 8, he received plasma from someone who had recovered from COVID-19.  

His family shared video with FOX 35 News as he started waking up from the coma on Easter. 

On Wednesday, Michael was smiling big and giving a thumbs up after being taken off a ventilator.  

“We’re really happy, really happy,” Stacie said.  

She broke the news to her husband that his story of battling COVID-19 has been gripping the hearts of our community and the country, and that strangers across the world are praying for him.

“He was really emotional about it, very teary-eyed.  He just can’t believe it,” Stacie said. 

At this point, Michael is spending most of his day resting between sessions with physical and operational therapists working on getting to the point where he’s strong enough to go home.  

“He has to be able to stand up on his own, sit and pivot, and I guess that’s a major milestone,” Stacie said.  

She says that could happen early next week.