299 days with COVID: Oregon long hauler goes home

Coronavirus

Alex Castro spent 109 days on an ECMO machine

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Alex Castro caught COVID-19 one month before the vaccines were available. Now, after a record-shattering 299 days at Providence Portland Medical Center, he’s finally home with his family.

There was an outpouring of emotion as the 43-year-old was wheeled out of his room at the hospital where he spent 109 days on an ECMO machine that bypasses the lungs to help them heal.

“When he was on ECMO his heart was failing, his kidneys were failing, he had to be on dialysis,” his wife Amanda Chase told KOIN 6 News. “We were told he wouldn’t leave the hospital unless he got a lung transplant. And here we are, going home.”

Alex Castro, 43, left Providence Portland Medical Center after 299 days battling COVID, October 11, 2021 (KOIN)

She said before he got sick in December 2020 he was always healthy. But he’s now missed Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, graduations and funerals.

“He’s missed a lot. He’s just missed life with us,” she said.

Nurse Tara Tuepker, who was at Castro’s side over the past 299 days, said it’s been the most emotional rollercoaster she’s ever been on.

Watching him go home will be forever etched in her memory, she said.

Alex Castro, 43, left Providence Portland Medical Center after 299 days battling COVID, October 11, 2021 (KOIN)

“I’m not going to lie. There were days we thought he wasn’t going to make it home. And to watch him get out of here and go home to his wife and kids” is fantastic, she said.

Alex Castro’s hospital discharge was an emotional lift for not only his family but for the exhausted health care workers. It gave them some hope that things will get better.

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