ORLANDO, Fla. - Michael Kevin Rathel was smiling big for the camera on Wednesday. Wife Stacie and the couple's kids watched in disbelief when the nurses in the intensive care unit at Orlando Health used FaceTime to show the family that he was breathing on his own.
"We saw him no ventilator. He was eyes open. He was really alert. The nurses were nearby helping him hold the phone. He was really glad to hear from us," Stacie said. "That was quite a moment. An emotional moment for us."
This progress nothing short of a medical miracle. Rathel has been in the ICU battling COVID-19 for more than a week. Doctors put him on a ventilator and into a medically induced coma April 4. Then, on April 8, he received an experimental treatment involving convalescent plasma, or plasma donated from a COVID-19 survivor. By Easter Sunday, we was responding to staff.
Now, 72 hours later, Rathel is breathing on his own and even talking.
"I was actually surprised at how strong he sounded, so he was actually speaking in sentences today," Stacie said. "We are in a very different place than we were 24 hours ago."
They are the extra signs of encouragement this family so desperately needs.
"He was even cracking jokes with the nurses. So I thought, okay yeah, he’s back!"
Stacie told FOX 35 News there is a chance her husband could be moved out of the ICU on Thursday but cautioned that he is not completely out of the woods yet. She is asking for prayers that her husband gets stronger every day and that he does not come down with sepsis, which doctors warned her could be a potential complication.
Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered could save lives. The nonprofit blood donation center OneBlood wants their plasma. Read more about the plasma donation program.