Rio Giardinieri, 52, contracted the coronavirus COVID-19, he thinks when he was at a conference in New York. He is vice president of a company that makes cooking equipment for high-end restaurants around the world, but suddenly he was too tired to do much of anything.
He had a fever “for five days, horrendous back pain, headache, cough, and tiredness and was was sleeping about 15 hours a day — when he’s used to getting five hours a night,” FOX-10 reported. It got so bad that after a week in the hospital, Giardinieri said goodbye to his wife and children.
Advertisement - story continues below
He says his doctors did not want to see him so he drove to Joe DiMaggio hospital in South Florida, near his home, and nearly passed out waiting to get tested. Doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and coronavirus. They put him on oxygen in the ICU but he says he was still unable to breathe. After more than a week, he says doctors told him there was really nothing more they could do. Friday evening, he said goodbye to his wife and three children.
“I was at the point where I was barely able to speak and breathing was very challenging. I really thought my end was there. I had been through nine days of solid pain and for me, the end was there. So I made some calls to say in my own way goodbye to my friends and family.” A dear friend immediately sent him a recent article about hydroxychloroquine, an old anti-malaria medicine proven successful to treat COVID-19 patients overseas, and insisted he take the drug.
But Giardinieri wasn’t done fighting, so he got in touch with an infectious disease doctor. “He gave me all the reasons why I would probably not want to try it because there are no trials, there’s no testing, it was not something that was approved. And I said look I don’t know if I’m going to make it until the morning because at that point I really thought I was coming to the end because I couldn’t breathe anymore. He agreed and authorized the use of it and 30 minutes later the nurse gave it to me,” he told FOX-10.
”An hour after an IV with the medicine, he says his heart felt like it was beating out of his chest. “They had to come in and get me calmed down and take care of me. I had another episode about two hours later where I just got to the point where I couldn’t breathe and my heart was pounding again so they gave me some Benadryl through the system and something else. I’m not sure what it was. It allowed me to go to sleep and when I woke up at exactly 4:45 in the morning, I woke up like nothing ever happened.”Miraculously, he’s since had no fever or pain, feels fine and he’s able to breathe again.
Advertisement - story continues below
“To me, there was no doubt in mind that I wouldn’t make it until morning,” Giardinieri said. “So to me the drug saved my life. … I just want everyone to know there’s an option. You don’t have to just sit there and hydrate. There’s a medicine that’s working.”
President Trump on Saturday expressed optimism about two drugs that he said could be “one of the biggest game changers” in medicine – hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Hydroxychloroquine is a drug used in the treatment and prevention of malaria. Azithromycin is an antibiotic that is used to treat many different types of infections in the respiratory system, eyes, ears, and skin, as well as sexually transmitted diseases.
On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced that the first trial vaccine for the coronavirus is now being tested. The trial taking place in Seattle, which has been a hotbed for COVID-19. The test includes 45 people age 18-55 and they are receiving two injections, one at zero days, one at 28 days. The individuals will then be followed for one year. The trial results is still months away.
But the doctor also said on Friday that hydroxychloroquine is not the answer right now. “Many things you hear out there are what I call anecdotal reports. They may be true, but they’re anecdotal… If you really want to definitively know if something works, you have to do the kind of trial that you get the good information with.”