PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Back In April, Arizona’s Family told you about the first survivor of COVID-19 after being on an ECMO machine in Arizona.
An ECMO machine is a last resort effort when a ventilator doesn't work, and often patients don't come off it. Now, that survivor is sharing his story for the first time after months of outpatient recovery.
Four months ago, 53-year-old Enes Dedic was in a hospital bed, expected to die from COVID-19.
“This is no joke at all. This is really no joke. It’s crazy. I kind of like …basically came back from the dead,” Enes said.
He's a medical miracle as the first COVID-19 patient in Arizona to come off an ECMO machine earlier this year, according to Honor Health. Not all hospitals in the Valley have ECMO machines, and they're only used when a ventilator doesn't work. The machine removes blood from a patient's body, pumps oxygen into it, then pumps it back into the body to help the lungs and heart.
An Arizona man is now one of the first coronavirus patients in the world to survive from a different kind of treatment after he was dying while using a ventilator.
Enes was in a coma for ten days while that process happened. He woke up on day 11 and eventually was reunited with his wife, Olivera.
“Oh my God, that was awesome. I mean, it was something,” said Enes.
“When I saw him he was walking; I was holding my phone shaking like crazy! And I couldn’t wait to hug him. It was really emotional,” Olivera said.
But the recovery hasn't been easy. Enes was in rehab until early May, he still doesn't have his full taste and smell back, and still goes to physical therapy twice a week.
“Especially walking and standing and moving left and right, that’s basically really hard,” Enes said. “I’m still missing some air, and I need to sit down after a couple of minutes, but it’s better and better every day.”
But those challenges are just a reminder to Enes and Olivera that he is smiling and alive, and they hope to see his doctors again soon.
“Oh, my God! Those doctors… we can’t wait to see them!” both of them said.
Banner tells Arizona’s Family a patient must have good heart function for an ECMO machine to have a chance at being successful. Enes and Olivera said it was his heart that kept him holding on.
“It’s too much love between each of us. And we were not ready to tell bye to each other. We have that connection!” said Olivera with a big smile.