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Coronavirus Update: 2 Survivors Tell Of Tense Moments During Their Recoveries At North Shore University Hospital

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Through all the sadness, there are stories of hope.

Two coronavirus survivors recently spoke to CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis on Thursday. One, a Long Island doctor, said he didn't think he'd make it out of the hospital.

On a stretcher in an ambulance, Dr. Charles Schleien, now the patient, said he wrestled with so many emotions.

"I was really fearful. Nervousness turned into sadness about it, for my kids thinking, oh my god, they're going to lose another parent," said Dr. Schleien, the executive director of Cohen Children's Medical Center. "My wife passed away about seven months ago following a battle with cancer."


On March 9, Schleien left work with chills and later was hit with a high fever. Not surprisingly, the 66-year-old tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he struggled with it for 12 days at home.

"It really wasn't until the oxygen levels fell that I felt I needed to be in the hospital," Schleien said.

A place and a disease he knows better than most.

"I was part of the team that was planning for this pandemic at Northwell ... so I'm laying there with my oxygen levels falling thinking, 'I'm gonna end up on a ventilator,'" Schleien said. "I called the kids saying, 'I don't know what's gonna happen in the next few hours, but this is not a good trajectory.'"

MORE: Coronavirus Update: Hospital Chaplains Face Daily Challenges Comforting The Sick, But Find Ways To Persevere

But that night at North Shore University Hospital, he took a turn for the better, avoided the ventilator and progressed on oxygen.

He was sent home at the end of March. One of his sons is now there to help.

"My physician decided I'm no longer infectious and now I can hug him every day," Schleien said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Schleien is holding on to every hug and every breath, just like Queens resident Patrick Zagdanski.

"Every breath I was taking was a conscious act," Zagdanski said.

The 52-year-old, who has asthma, spent nearly two weeks at North Shore, and at one point even asked to take care of a do not resuscitate order.

"They gave me the anti-malaria drug and a cocktail of antibiotics and that reduced the fever. Once the fever was reduced, I was able to get better," Zagdanski said. "You have to fight to stay alive."

He, too, was fighting for his family. He's a survivor, one of many spreading hope.

"Most people, they will get through it," Schleien said.

Both survivors said they're not yet 100%, explaining it's a slow road to recovery. However, they are taking it one day at a time and are grateful to be doing so at home.

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