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Kroger worker makes a remarkable COVID-19 recovery after 113 days in the hospital

Kroger COVID 01.jpeg
Posted at 4:03 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 22:01:39-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- For nearly four months, Matt and Melinda Elizardo have relied on FaceTime to see each other.

It was on April 8 that Matt, who has worked at the Kroger on Staples Mill for eight years, told Melinda he could not breathe.

"I called 911, 911 came within five minutes and got him and took him off to the ER and that was the last time I saw him until about three weeks ago," Melinda said when we interviewed her at her Henrico home on July 10.

"They rushed me up to emergency and after that I don't remember anything," Matt said in a FaceTime interview from the hospital.

Matt, who turned 55 on July 23 and lives with diabetes and high blood pressure, had tested positive for COVID-19.

He was intubated the next day, and went into cardiac arrest a few days later.

"He was only out for 30 seconds. They brought him back," Melinda said.

He then laid in a coma for six weeks.

Melina could not visit him for over two months.

"I had the phone by my bed because I was like, 'are they gonna call and tell me that he's dead? It was that way for months, months," Melinda said. "I didn't know because you hear it so much, nobody makes it, nobody makes it."

Melinda said doctors first tried hydroxychloroquine, but "it was hurting his kidney so they stopped it immediately."

She said they then got him into a drug trial for Remdesivir.

"The first day, here he comes he's opening his eyes, looking around trying to talk, and it's like oh my God, here is my husband, he's coming back, and every day he was on it was a better day," Melinda said.

Melinda Elizardo
Melinda Elizardo

When Matt finally woke up, everything had changed.

"It's crazy, I couldn't even move, I couldn't even use the remote in the room that's how bad it was," Matt said. "I went from 300 pounds to 227."

"He has to learn everything again, how to talk, to walk, to eat, learn this and that that we take for granted," Melinda said.

Both Matt and Melinda hope others will learn from their story and follow the advice of public health officials.

"This is no joke, I'm living it," Melinda said.

"I didn't deserve this, I did my job, I washed my hands, I sanitized myself, I worked 60 hours a week at Kroger," Matt said. "They forget about the guys that are on the front lines."

"I just want him home with me," Melinda said during our initial interview.

On Wednesday, July 29, 113 days after Matt first entered the hospital, Melinda finally got her wish.

With hospital workers at Parham Doctor's Hospital lining the hallway cheering, Matt was wheeled toward freedom.

Wearing a shirt that read "I survived coronavirus 2020," Matt mustered up the strength to walk himself to the car to restart his life.

"He came in here severely impaired, severe muscle weakness could not even lift his arms or legs off the bed and to see him walk out it's hard to describe," one of the nurses who cared for Matt said.

Kroger COVID 01.jpeg
Matt Elizardo leaves the hospital after surviving COVID-19.

"It's great to get him home after all these months, it's been a long road," Melinda said.