Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Emergency room doctor, near death with coronavirus, saved with experimental treatment

Dr. Ryan Padgett, a Seattle emergency room physician, contracted COVID-19 and was saved by doctors who used an experimental treatment.
(Karen Ducey / Los Angeles Times)

As critically ill, elderly patients streamed into his emergency room outside Seattle, Dr. Ryan Padgett quickly came to understand how deadly COVID-19 could be.
Of the first two dozen or so he saw, not a single one survived.
It took longer for Padgett and his colleagues at EvergreenHealth Medical Center — the first hospital in the country to treat multiple coronavirus patients — to learn how easily the disease could spread.
At first, the medical workers wore only surgical masks and gloves. Later, they were told to wear respirators and other gear, but the equipment was unfamiliar and Padgett couldn’t be certain he put it on and took it off correctly each time.
A 6-foot-3, 250-pound former football star who played for Northwestern in the 1996 Rose Bowl, he wasn’t fazed by much.
“To worry about myself, as a 44-year-old healthy man, didn’t even cross my mind,” he said in an interview Monday.
But on March 12, with his wedding day two months away, Padgett became the patient.
Soon after being admitted to his own hospital with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, he was placed on a ventilator. Five days after that, his lungs and kidneys were failing, his heart was in trouble, and doctors figured he had a day or so to live.
He owes his survival to an elite team of doctors who tried an experimental treatment pioneered in China and used on the sickest of all COVID-19 patients.
Lessons from his dramatic recovery could help doctors worldwide treat other extremely ill COVID-19 patients.

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