'Take this thing seriously': New York pastor warns of COVID-19 after 100-day hospital battle
TORONTO -- A New York pastor is warning others to take COVID-19 seriously after spending 54 days on a ventilator and more than six weeks in a medically induced coma after contracting the disease.
In a video released Thursday by Mount Sinai Hospital, Pastor Benjamin Thomas asks others to wear face masks and follow physical distancing measures after he says he lost over 22 kilograms and all of his muscle while battling the novel coronavirus.
"COVID-19 I went through is real. I know still people do not want to wear masks and don't want to keep social distancing. It is very important. Take this thing seriously. You don't want to go through what I went through. It is very rough," Thomas said in the video.
Thomas, who is the pastor at Queens Church of God, was released from Mount Sinai on July 2 after spending over 100 days at the hospital.
"It was a very rough journey," Thomas said.
Thomas said thankfully none of his organs were affected by the virus except for his lungs.
However, his doctor said the virus still took a dramatic toll on Thomas.
"I really just told God there was nothing else I can offer him, he's got to take over," Dr. Robin Varghese said in the video.
"We've given him everything that modern medicine can throw at him."
Varghese, who runs the cardiovascular surgery ICU that became a COVID unit during the pandemic, said he began trying new treatment options in mid-April when Thomas’ health was at its worst.
"He was in the worst shape, and many of our team members who were rooting for him, were also losing hope, as was I," Varghese said.
However, by the middle of May, Varghese said Thomas was making "slow, very slow but steady progress" in recovering from the illness.
"The whole team said there is no hope, they fully gave up on me. [But] I turned, I changed, I started to respond to the medicine," Thomas said.
Thomas is now back at his home in East Meadow, Long Island but still needs supplemental oxygen to breathe. Varghese said he will need the extra oxygen for a few weeks after his lungs were "ravaged by the COVID-19 virus."
"We're very happy that he continued to progress and he started to progress. We're thankful for all the people that were continuing to pray for him because we know that was a very important part of his recovery all with the care of our intensive care team," Varghese said.
Thomas said he is happy to be home with his family and looks forward to reuniting with his church, calling his recovery "a miracle."