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COVID-19 survivor welcomed home after hospitalization

Aug 5, 2020

Retired paramedic’s recovery helped with teamwork, ECMO treatment

ima2=ge-2After months of battling COVID-19, Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital retired paramedic Larry Delfs was recently discharged from his long-term acute care facility and is now recovering at home.

Nicknamed “Superman” by those close to him, Delfs spent some six weeks in St. Mary’s Hospital before transitioning to long term care as he continued his recovery. “Mr. Delfs was an extraordinary case,” said Dr. Kapil Lotun, director of Carondelet’s Cardiac Cath Lab, Structural Heart and Cardiovascular Service Line, who was part of Delfs’ care team.

After contracting COVID-19 last spring, Delfs was admitted St. Mary’s Hospital.  During his hospitalization, Delfs developed acute respiratory failure requiring intubation, maximum support for his circulatory system, and suffered an acute kidney injury. His oxygenation continued a downward spiral to extremely dangerous level. The decision was made to place him on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to help with his oxygenation and cardiovascular support.

In May, Delfs was discharged from St. Mary’s Hospital to a rehabilitation facility where his family, friends, and St. Mary’s staff supported him from a distance. He continued his recovery and remained there for rehabilitation for another 10 weeks. He was welcomed home by his family on July 17 for the first time following four months of hospitalization.

image-1“This success story was due to a great team effort,” Dr. Lotun said. “All of the nurses, respiratory techs, and intensivists were real heroes, caring for him at the bedside 24/7.  Our administration was incredibly supportive throughout this whole endeavor, providing all the necessary equipment and PPE.”

Delfs’ journey continues at home with the help of dialysis as he aims for a full recovery from the novel coronavirus.

“Besides the fabulous healthcare workers on his case we are thankful to God for saving his life and continuing the restoration of his health,” Delfs’ wife, Kathy said. “We didn’t know if this day would come, we are all grateful.”

One of the first and favorite meals Delfs was able to enjoy at home was a tuna grinder sandwich and a watermelon Eegee – a favorite of many Tucsonans.

“He’s not a ‘superman’, he’s just a humble man who has served his community with the talents and abilities that God has given him, and he’s thankful to everyone who has taken care of him, supported him, and prayed for him,” Kathy Delfs said.

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