Kevin Rathel, 52, was wheeled out of Orlando Regional Medical Center in April where he had spent weeks in the hospital, fighting COVID-19 on life support.
He was the first in the region to receive convalescent plasma and credits that treatment for his survival. That was nearly eight months ago.
“It affects the lungs a lot, so I lose my breathe a lot. The doctors say make sure you walk and get as much exercise as possible,” Kevin Rathel said.
News 6 caught up with the Rathel family on Wednesday. Kevin Rathel said he is still feeling the effects of coronavirus, undergoing physical therapy several times a week.
“Just getting your strength back afterwards is obviously difficult,” Kevin Rathel said.
He is one of now over 1 million Floridians who have tested positive for the virus. The virus has killed more than 18,000 in Florida.
“Our hearts break for the cases that we hear. People contact me all the time. I’ve very active in the survivor corps and other groups for families affected by the virus. It is definitely affecting people in different ways,” Stacie Rathel said of her husband’s battle.
Coronavirus has given this family new perspective this holiday.
“We’re trying to be more intentional and appreciate each other,” Stacie Rathel said.
“We decorated the Christmas tree. We’re hoping for some normality this Christmas as we stay home and just enjoy our family,” Kevin Rathel said.
The Rathel family said they still keep in touch with Kevin Rathel’s convalescent plasma donor, James Crocker, and visit him and his family occasionally.
They said with the promising news of a vaccines, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“You’re somewhat holding your breath. You’re almost afraid to have too many high expectations for 2021. You hope for the best, but you have to live day-by-day and hopefully we’re nearing the end and get through this,” Stacie Rathel said.
The Rathel family continues to encourage people who have had coronavirus and have the antibodies to donate their convalescent plasma.
“We’re not hearing that the cases are so severe. We are still champions for convalescent plasma and we’re not even hearing that people need that as much, but it’s available for those who do need it,” Stacie Rathel said.