I Was Saved by a Ventilator. But My Body Suffered

David Lat battles breathlessness in the wake of his intubation
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2020 7:22 AM CDT
I Was Saved by a Ventilator. But My Body Suffered
David Lat, who spent six days on a ventilator, says possible shortages are an "embarrassment."   (Getty Images/DrDjJanek)

After coronavirus patient David Lat was admitted to a New York City hospital, his physician father gave him a warning: "You better not get put on a ventilator. People don’t come back from that." Indeed, the AP reports 40% to 50% of patients with severe respiratory distress die on ventilators. In NYC, at least 80% of coronavirus patients on ventilators have died. So when Lat, struggling to breathe, learned he'd need to be put on the device on March 20, four days after his admittance, the father of a 2-year-old was "terrified," he writes at the Washington Post. Now on the other side of what turned into a six-day experience that saved him, Lat is sharing his "outrage ... that a nation as wealthy as ours is even discussing possible ventilator shortages"—as well as describing how his life "is not the same."

Lat, founding editor of legal website Above the Law, is still dealing with the repercussions of his experience, of which he recalls nothing due to the sedation he was under. The marathon runner, who manages his exercise-induced asthma with an inhaler, now gets winded walking across a room and can only "walk" around the block if he's pushed in a wheelchair. "When I shower, I can’t stand the entire time," he writes. "I take breaks from standing to sit down on a plastic stool I have placed inside my bathtub." His vocal cords are damaged; other people have suffered worse after-effects, including cognitive deficits and psychological issues like PTSD and depression. But "I'm not complaining," writes Lat. "I am incredibly grateful to be alive. And for that, I have the ventilator to thank." Read the full piece here. (More coronavirus stories.)

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