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"I felt I met death": Nurse describes monthlong battle to beat coronavirus

Coronavirus survivors may face new challenges
Coronavirus survivors may face new challenges... 02:46

Fontana, California — Getting along with the help of a walker, Marcial Reyes was still extremely weak after contracting the novel coronavirus. "I still have 100% body pains," he told CBS Los Angeles Wednesday.

But, the 47-year-old says his spirit has never been stronger.

"It's not going to damper my desire to help the community," he said.

The charge nurse survived a brutal battle with COVID-19 that left him hospitalized at his place of work, Kaiser in Fontana, for nearly 30 days.

For 11 of those days, Reyes was in a medically-induced coma and was attached to a ventilator. "Because my lungs were collapsing already," he said.

That was when Reyes said he had a vivid, and terrifying, near-death experience.

"I felt I met death," he said. "And I saw my mother, I saw my brother, I saw my dad."

Reyes said he told his family members he needed to live for his 5-year-old son and his wife.

"Suddenly they left me," Reyes said.

Reyes said he was treated with a cocktail of Vitamin C, anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and retrovir, an antiretroviral medication commonly used to slow the progress of HIV.

"The second day they were giving that medication to me, my fever went away," he said.

And while he said scientists can debate all day about which of those treatments turned his health around, he had already found the answer to his miraculous recovery.

"There's always divine intervention," he said.

Reyes said he wants people fighting COVID-19 to know that the illness isn't a death sentence and wants to give them hope that they, too, can recover.

"Never give up," he said.

Reyes said he has about 15% of his strength back and hopes to return to work as soon as he's well.

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