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Brothers Battle Back Against COVID-19

Dr. Salam Jarrah, wearing her personal protective equipment, works in the COVID Intensive care unit at JPS Health Network.

“There were definitely times when I wasn’t sure we would both make it out of the hospital to be together again,” said Sean Freeman.  

He and his brother, Carlos, found themselves at JPS at the same time over the summer of 2020, fighting extended battles with COVID-19. Sean’s case was serious, but Carlos spent a month near death on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. “I’ll never forget, after all Carlos went through, when they called to say he was off the ventilator and breathing on his own again. It seemed like a miracle.” 

Dr. Salam Jarrah said Carlos was one of the first truly severe COVID cases to arrive at JPS. “He was very distressed, very hypoxic,” Jarrah remembered. “His oxygen level would drop precipitously even when we would turn him. We were pretty worried whenever we had to take him someplace because we weren’t sure how he would endure the trip. His condition changed dramatically from day to day. Some days it would seem as if he was recovering, the next day we weren’t so sure. His recovery truly was a miracle, he was just so acutely ill.”

"I knew that I came through it, and that helped give me hope that he was going to recover, too."

While they were hospitalized at the same time, the siblings were still isolated. Because of the different level of care they required, they were in different areas of the hospital. On a ventilator, Carlos was sedated for the majority of his stay. But, when he was awake and alert, nurses in his unit connected Carlos with Sean the same way COVID patients stay in touch with family members not allowed inside the hospital. They set them up with video conferences and phone calls. “They did a great job of keeping me updated on what was going on with my brother,” Sean said. “It was weird being so close but not actually being able to see him in person. I knew how tough and scary COVID was for me. For him, it was so much worse.” 

When Sean was discharged first, he didn’t want to go and leave Carlos behind.  

“That was tough,” Sean said. “But I knew that I came through it, and that helped to give me hope that he was going to recover, too.” 

Carlos said when he was finally freed from the hospital, it took him a long time to get back up to speed. But he’s finally starting to feel like himself again. 

“I’m so thankful to all the people who took care of me,” Carlos said. “There were definitely times when I didn’t think I had the strength to make it. But they fought for me the whole way. It was hard. But I made it.”