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Doctor treated with coronavirus antibodies recovers at home after hospitalization

He says he didn't know how sick he was until he read his own chart after he recovered.

METAIRIE, La. —

One of the first people in the state to recover from COVID-19 after getting a transfusion of antibodies is finally well enough to talk about his experience. 

That doctor, who practices at East Jefferson General Hospital, is now at home and doing well. He says he didn't know how sick he was until he read his own chart after he recovered.

It was just three weeks ago when Aurelia Montalvo shared her innermost fears and personal prayers. 

  "I was just crying and I said, 'God, if I can just hold him one more time, one more time.' And that was my prayer almost on a daily basis. I said 'Just one more time,'" Aurelia Montalvo said on April 14.

At the time, her husband Dr. Hector Montalvo was in the East Jefferson ICU, unconscious,  on a ventilator from COVID-19. It was not known if he would live. That’s when a colleague, nephrologist Dr. Ashwin Jaikishen, donated his blood plasma. He had recovered from COVID-19 and had the antibodies to fight the virus. 

Today, with her husband at her side, Aurelia had her prayers answered. 

"In two days I was out of a ventilator, so it was, it changed the course of the disease, said Dr. Hector Montalvo, an Internist at EJGH. He credits the plasma with saving his life. 

Dr. Montalvo is back at home, practicing internal medicine, treating his patients by telemedicine. He says the way he views the world now is changed. 

"The days after I came out of the ventilator, I couldn’t sleep. I just pray and give thanks, pray and give thanks. That changed my life," he said. 

His faith is stronger, so is his gratitude and appreciation for the selfless care of nurses and doctors. He wants to be more empathetic and emotionally available to his patients.  His feelings for his friends, family and wife are immense. 

"The relationship has changed. We have more appreciation, when I see what she did. What she has to go through," said Dr. Montalvo. 

What Aurelia went through was the most difficult decision she could imagine. She had to give DNR permission to the medical team. Do not resuscitate her husband should he stop breathing and his heart stops beating.

"That is one of the days that I think that I did cry constantly, because I kept looking at the side of my bed and just trying to think I can not imagine," said Aurelia Montalvo. 

Their routines are now returning to normal. Their views of them are far different. And now they are paying it forward, donating their plasma to help others. 

"We went early this morning to sign up and say we are ready. We are ready!" said Dr. Montalvo. 

Doctors are putting out a call for more people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood as part of a study.  To sign up call MedPharmics at 504-609-2333.

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