LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — An 81-year-old Orange County man emerged victorious after time on a ventilator in the intensive care unit, battling COVID-19.

“Thank you for saving my life,” said Victor Gomez.

Gomez is forever grateful to staff at Mission Hospital where he spent a month after going in with upper respiratory problems.

“Given his worsening condition, the decision was made to go ahead and place him on a ventilator. We knew it would have been difficult and challenging because he’s 81 and he was one of our very first positive COVID patients,” said Dr. Dan Ponticiello.

Gomez’s wife of 25 years, Susan, was unable to stand by her husband’s side.

“So when he went on the ventilator, I didn’t even get to see him. I was so scared I was never going to see him again,” she said.

“It’s challenging and difficult, but we’ve been communicating with families every day. Particularly, this patient’s wife has been very understanding,” said Dr. Ponticiello.

But after nine days on a ventilator, two weeks in the ICU, it was a success.

Gomez was downgraded to the medical floor, then on his way to acute rehab.

“You saved his life. You all are fantastic. I wish I could repay you in some way, but thank you so much,” said Susan.

Though brief, the husband and wife were able to see each other for a few minutes and look forward to their days ahead together.

Victor is going to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for acute rehab. He won’t be able to have any visitors, but should be back home with his wife in a couple of weeks.

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