A 54-year-old skier who was diagnosed with COVID-19 and given a 1% chance to live left a Burbank hospital Friday after battling the respiratory illness for two strenuous months.
The man and 12 of his friends had contracted the coronavirus while on a ski trip in Italy back in February. But Gregg Garfield’s case was the worst.
It was just the early stages of the pandemic in L.A. County, and Garfield was the first COVID-19 patient at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. They called him “Patient Zero,” his family said.
His condition quickly deteriorated, and within 48 hours of being hospitalized he was put on a ventilator, according to Dr. Daniel Dea at Providence St. Joseph.
Garfield’s lungs collapsed four times, his kidneys failed, his body became septic and his fingers and toes turned black.
“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” his sister Stephanie Bruno said. “He was perfectly healthy and it took him to the edge.”
Doctors gave Garfield a 1% chance to live.
“He really was knocking on death’s door,” his friend Gregory Meyer said.
But to everyone’s surprise, Garfield recovered.
“There is a 70% or above mortality rate for COVID patients that go on the ventilator… so for him to survive with a near-full recovery is amazing,” the doctor said.
Surrounded by cheering hospital staff and loved ones outside the hospital Friday, Garfield pulled himself up from his wheelchair as his sister and his girlfriend supported him.
“I couldn’t have gotten through this without you, each and every one of you,” he told them. “God knows, I’m gonna pay it forward.”
Garfield survived COVID-19, but his road to recovery will be long. During his illness, he suffered nerve damage and doctors say his fingers and toes will need to to be amputated.
But Garfield said he’s just thankful he’s alive.
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money to help Garfield with hospital bills and other expenses.