Hospitalized For Months: One Man’s Fight Against COVID-19

 1520167899 
1605795575
Magaly victor
Magaly Cordova

Magaly Cordova holds hands with her husband Victor Perea while visiting him at UAB Hospital.

Since March, more than 22,000 Alabamians have been hospitalized with COVID-19, some requiring months of inpatient care.

Victor Perea, 38, has been fighting the virus for almost three months at UAB Hospital. His wife, Magaly Cordova, said the diagnosis came as a shock. Before this illness, she said Perea didn’t have any pre-existing conditions. 

“He was healthy,” Cordova said. “He was a gym guy, you know, eating healthy, go to the gym every day. And really careful about this virus.”

Perea, who lives in Homewood, had recently gotten a new job installing IT systems. He found out he had COVID-19 in early September, after a co-worker tested positive for the virus.

Cordova and Perea with their now 13-year-old daughter Natalia.

‘He Got Worse And Worse’

Cordova said initially, Perea didn’t have any symptoms. 

“The second day, he started with a little bit of coughing and fever,” she said. “But just a little.”

A few days later, Perea developed shortness of breath, started having bad headaches and lost his sense of taste and smell.  

They went to an urgent care clinic, but he didn’t improve. A few days later, Perea went to UAB Hospital. Unable to accompany him as a visitor, Cordova waited for an update.

“He called me and he said, ‘Hey I’m going to stay two days.’” she said. “And I was like ‘OK yeah, yeah two days … Great, so you’re going to be better, you know. You’re in the hospital now. They’re going to put you oxygen and all the stuff.’”

Perea stayed much longer than two days. About a week after he was admitted, he was placed on a ventilator and after about a month, one of his lungs collapsed.  

Ups And Downs

Cordova said some days it seemed like Perea was getting better and then everything would change. 

“They called me one night and they said, ‘Yeah, you know, maybe he’s not going to get through the night. So you can come and say goodbye. He’s really bad right now.’ So I was like, losing my mind,” she said. 

Perea was sedated, but Cordova went to see him. She wanted to talk to him. 

“I was like, ‘No. I’m going, but I’m going not to say goodbye. I’m going to tell him that he needs to be strong,’” she said. 

Perea holds his now 3-year-old son Santiago.

Victor made it through the night. In the coming days he started to get better. 

He is now in UAB’s Pulmonary Intensive Care Unit. He has a tracheostomy to help him breathe and he’s lost a lot of strength. But Cordova is finally seeing real improvement. 

“I went to see him and for the first time in two months, three weeks, he say, ‘Hi baby.’ And I was just screaming and crying,” Cordova said. 

‘This Virus Is Real’

It’s been nearly three months since Perea was first admitted to the hospital. Cordova doesn’t know how much longer he will be there, but it will likely take a long time for him to recover. 

She wants others to understand how bad it can get. 

“Some people say like, ‘Oh no it’s not real or it’s just like a flu.’ But it’s not,” Cordova said. “This virus is real. It’s real and it’s killing people.”

It has also been difficult financially for Cordova and Perea, who have two kids. Cordova has continued her job cleaning houses, but Perea has not been able to work for months and he doesn’t have health insurance. While they have not received any medical bills yet, Cordova expects the hospital stay to cost thousands of dollars.

A friend has started a GoFundMe page to help the family. 

More Coronavirus Coverage

UAB And JeffCo To Expand Vaccine Outreach In Underrepresented Communities

As of Wednesday, UAB had administered roughly 80,000 vaccine doses, but Black residents remain disproportionately underrepresented.

Alabama’s COVID-19 Death Count Nears 10,000 Mark

Within about a year, the state has lost almost 10,000 Alabamians to COVID-19.

UAB Officials Hopeful Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Could Accelerate Rollout

UAB health experts say when it comes to vaccine variety, more is better. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the latest to win approval from the federal government.

Alabama’s COVID Vaccination Rate Increases

Federal programs have helped increase the number of Alabamians getting vaccinated in recent weeks.

“The Edge of the Woods”: UAB Epidemiologist Says Herd Immunity Could Be Reached By Late Spring

An epidemiologist at UAB Medicine thinks that Alabama may be headed toward a long-sought goal in the COVID pandemic and may reach that goal sooner than many had expected.

Black Residents Call For More COVID Vaccine Outreach And Access

Concerned about disparities in vaccine allocation, Birmingham community leaders want officials to increase outreach efforts in Black neighborhoods.

More Coronavirus Coverage