‘It’s amazing’: Toronto man recovering after 104 days in ICU with COVID-19

TORONTO — For months, Bruno Iozzo’s family waited for news of whether he would survive COVID-19.

In late March, the healthy 73-year-old man was among the first COVID-19 patients admitted to the Humber River Hospital in Toronto. For the next 104 days, Iozzo would fight the infection in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

CTV News first reported Iozzo’s story back in April, when his daughter Gisella was unsure whether her father would survive the infection.

“I just hope my dad would be one of those miracles that come out of this story that shows the world that there’s hope,” she told CTV News back in April.

Today, Iozzo is indeed one of those miracles. He was discharged from Humber River Hospital a few days ago and is now rehabbing at the Runnymede Healthcare Centre with the goal of returning home on Aug. 29.

“He’s been here for five days, he’s walking, up in a chair, he’s eating by mouth,” said Geeta Grewal, director of patient care at the facility. “He’s actively engaged in activities so he’s doing very, very well. “

“It’s amazing because he’s so positive and he’s so motivated that he really wants to do well and we know that he’s going to do well.”

When he was first admitted to the hospital, doctors noted that the infection had damaged his lungs and were unable to send enough oxygen to his blood, which eventually led to a kidney failure and dialysis.

 “We were very concerned when he came into the ICU,” Dr. Sanjay Manocha, a critical care physician at the Humber River Hospital, told CTV News. “He was critically ill needing life support to go on the ventilator and through his journey in the ICU there were times where we weren’t sure if he was going to survive.”

Iozzo said he doesn’t remember much from the ordeal.

“(For) two, three months it was black,” he said. “Three months in this dark room.”

“It was the worst.”

While thousands of Canadians have died from COVID-19 in the past few months, Iozzo has become quite the success story for the doctors involved.

“It’s a great feeling to see someone who was that sick, go through a severe critical illness on life support to the point where we were not sure that they were going to survive,” said Manocha.

“It was amazing to see and it provides hope for us that we can provide the same for other patients who go through this illness as well.”

Manocha also hopes that Iozzo’s story will be an inspiration to other frontline workers and patients alike.

“By seeing someone, leave the ICU and surviving this, it actually puts faith back into what we do on a day-to-day basis for all of our patients,” he said.  “This, I think, will help the team recognize that their efforts are not (in) vain.”

Iozzo still faces a long road to recovery, but Gisella is overjoyed with her father’s perseverance.

 “It’s just incredible for him to speak, for him to see what he’s gone through and be able to tell his story and to hug me,” she said.

“I was just happy that when he woke up that he remembered my name because part of me didn’t think he was going to.”

In an effort to give back to the hospital, Gisella has turned to fundraising. She collects a bag of garbage along the Humber River recreational trail — which is near the hospital — for every $100 that is donated through her “Trash for Treasure” campaign. She hopes to raise $30,000 for the hospital’s foundation by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Manocha said it’s cases like Iozzo’s that give doctors’ hope that they will be better prepared in the event of a second wave of the virus.

“I think we’re in a better position to support people who come to the hospital and come into the ICU.”

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