David Lat, a 44-year-old legal writer, is in critical condition, his husband said on Saturday.

David Lat

David Lat described what it was like being placed on a ventilator for six days after having trouble breathing from COVID-19 in a Washington Post op-ed. 

Lat is a 44-year-old legal recruiter and blogger who previously ran marathons. 

He suffered from asthma as a child and later had exercise-induced asthma that was managed with an inhaler as an adult. 

Now he says his life won’t be the same after being on a ventilator. 

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In mid-March, David Lat, a 44-year-old legal recruiter and blogger, revealed on Twitter that he’d been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and was suffering from terrible flu-like symptoms. 

The 44-year-old, who had previously completed two marathons and had exercise-induced asthma, would spend 17 days in New York University Langone medical center after having trouble breathing. He would be put on a ventilator for six days.

“I would not be here today without a ventilator,” Lat wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. 

Lat said that while he’s grateful to be among the few who are saved by ventilators, his life won’t be the same. 

“For those of us lucky enough to get off ventilators, our lives are not the same. Many patients who come off ventilators suffer lasting physical, mental, and emotional issues, including cognitive deficits, lost jobs and psychological issues, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Lat wrote. 

Lat described difficulty breathing while doing small, simple movements and an inability to carry out everyday tasks without extra help or feeling winded. 

“I used to run marathons; now I can’t walk across a room or up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I can’t go around the block for fresh air unless my husband pushes me in a wheelchair. When I shower, I can’t stand the entire time; I take breaks from standing to sit down on a plastic stool I have placed inside my bathtub,” he wrote. 

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COVID-19 can cause respiratory failure in extreme cases, and ventilators, machines that help patients breathe, are necessary to help save their lives. 

While several studies have been conducted on severe coronavirus cases that make it the ICU, it’s difficult to draw long term conclusions on what happens to these patients, but some short term conclusions show that many stay in the ICU for weeks and a significant portion of those cases die, Business Insider previously reported. 

Dennis Carroll, the head of the US Agency for International Development’s infectious disease unit told USA TODAY that about a third of COVID-19 patients on ventilators will live. 

Lat described being in stable condition for the first few days with the use of supplement oxygen until one day his breathing took a turn, and he was told he needed to be put on a ventilator. 

“This terrified me. A few days earlier, after my admission to the hospital, my physician father had warned me: ‘You better not get put on a ventilator. People don’t come back from that,'” Lat wrote. 

“As the nurses prepared me for the intubation, I thought to myself: It’s not my time to die. My husband and I have a 2-year-old son. I want to see him graduate from high school, graduate from college. If he gets married or has kids of his own someday, I want to be there. I started praying the Hail Mary, over and over,” Lat wrote. 

Lat said he felt fortunate to have not experienced any hallucinations or nightmares when he was sedated, like most patients on ventilators.

He was also grateful that he didn’t need a tracheostomy, where an incision is made in the neck and breathing tube is placed directly in the windpipe, and that he was able to breathe with supplement oxygen after being extubated. 

He’s not sure how long it will take him to recover, or if he will entirely, but Lat said he’s just grateful to still be alive. 

“I’m not complaining. I am incredibly grateful to be alive. And for that, I have the ventilator to thank,” he concluded.

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