Surviving COVID-19: One Patient's Story

Surviving COVID-19: One Patient's Story

When Alhassan Bangura, 38, started coughing and developed a fever and stomach pains in late March, he thought he had the flu. Days later when the Hagerstown resident had difficulty breathing, he knew it was time to go to Meritus Medical Center’s emergency department.

“I could not lay down,” says Bangura. “When I’d sit up straight, I was fine, but when I laid down, I was having trouble breathing.”

Physicians at the emergency department isolated Bangura and performed several tests, including one to see if he had COVID-19 – the infectious respiratory disease that has spread around the world. The test revealed he was positive for the virus.

“I was in good health before this,” says Bangura. “Surprisingly, I had just gone to my doctor for a visit, had blood work and was told everything was ‘looking good.’ Then the virus hit and everything went 360.”

Within days of being diagnosed, Bangura’s health declined. He was placed on a ventilator to try and improve his health and remained on it for 12 days.

“I actually felt scared,” says Bangura, when he recalled the moments just before he went on the ventilator. “I started thinking about my family, my kids. At one point, I felt like I was not going to be able to see them anymore based on the way I was feeling.”

A team of Meritus Medical Center doctors and nurses worked around-the-clock to treat him and keep his spirits high. On April 17, Bangura had recovered enough to return home to his wife and two children.

“The nurses and doctors were excellent,” says Bangura. “They did a very good job and that’s why, when I was leaving, I kept saying ‘thank you’ to them. With God and them, they gave me a second chance to come back and see my family and I’m grateful for that.”

To celebrate Bangura’s discharge, staff members from across the hospital lined the hallways, waving and cheering as he said his goodbyes. At Meritus Medical Center, this gathering is called a “Celebration Rocky” and is now held in honor of COVID-19-recovered patients as they are being discharged.

“I did not expect that,” says Bangura. “It felt so good. I tried to record it for my family to see, but I couldn’t because I got so emotional, my hands were shaking.”

While he is still isolating himself from his family as a precaution, Bangura says he is thankful to be back home. As for families experiencing a similar situation, he has some advice.

“Don’t give up,” says Bangura. “Don’t ever give up.”