A Sydney man who spent a marathon 399 days in hospital after contracting COVID-19 in July last year has finally left hospital in an emotional parting with health workers.
After weeks in a coma and more than a year in hospital, 69-year-old David Mellado was applauded by hospital staff this month as he walked out of Westmead Hospital.
“I didn’t know my name, didn’t know nothing,” Mr Mellado said. “But now I can say my name, I can say thank you.”
After being intubated in the intensive care unit, Mr Mellado’s chances of recovery dropped from 98 per cent to just 78 per cent.
But thanks to the help of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, and speech pathologists at Westmead Hospital in Sydney’s west, he is on the road to a full recovery.
As he left the hospital, Mr Mellado urged everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine, to avoid his gruelling fate.
“Many people, they don’t want the vaccine, they don’t trust [experts] about [COVID-19]. But it’s real. It’s real,” he said.
“They have to understand, they have to get the vaccine, they have to help the other people too.”
After seven weeks in Westmead Hospital’s ICU, Mr Mellado was moved to a respiratory unit where he spent a year slowly recovering.
In that time he met his grandson for the first time.
Mr Mellado also won the hearts of hospital staff, who he said “feel like family”.
“I have in my heart everybody I remember,” he said.
“When I do exercise [in] the corridor, I know everyone, everyone they say to me, ‘hello David’.
“I feel happy because I don’t remember many people, but they know me.”
Respiratory observation nurse unit manager Trudy Darling said staff were extremely proud to see Mr Mellado overcome the odds.
“All the staff felt he was very much part of our family and we loved caring for him,” Ms Darling said.
“We miss him and it’s sad to see him go, but we all wish David and his family all the best.”
Mr Mellado became emotional as he thanked the staff at Western Sydney Local Health District who treated him over his 13 month stay.
“Thank you very much everybody working here [who] heal me a lot,” he said.
He still has months of rehabilitation to come, after leaving hospital.