Hawaii man recovering from COVID-19 takes first steps in months

Coby Torda’s hospital bed is surrounded by balloons, pictures and a birthday banner.
Published: May. 13, 2020 at 11:08 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Coby Torda’s hospital bed is surrounded by balloons, pictures and a birthday banner.

“To brighten up his room a bit, make it more of a special day for him,” said Scotty Stapes, Torda’s husband, who dropped off the decorations at Kaiser Permanente.

Hospital staff put them up before singing “Happy Birthday!” to the patient with his family on FaceTime.

Torda, who is recovering from severe complications of COVID-19, turned 38 years old Tuesday.

Loved ones still cannot visit, even though Torda now meets the criteria of coronavirus-free because he tested negative twice.

"It takes so much effort for us to not break in and run up to the fourth floor, and just get a peek of him and wave at him,” said his mother, Peggy Torda-Saballa, who last saw her son when she dropped him off at the hospital on March 21.

Torda also took his first steps in months on Tuesday.

Saballa said he was exhausted after. “He has to rebuild his strength," he said.

The Waikiki bartender was in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator for six weeks after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Healthy, young and strong, Torda’s case was a wake-up call to many who thought the virus only seriously affects the elderly or those with health conditions.

Torda woke up earlier this month, but is still learning to speak with a voice valve, attached to the tracheostomy tube.

Stapes made a video for Torda for his birthday so that loved ones could update him on what he’s missed and offer birthday greetings.

The video is 11 minutes long and includes news that his sister-in-law gave birth to a baby boy. Many other family members, including Torda’s siblings, offered words of support and encouragement.

And there is a section to thank the many health care workers who were by his side throughout the ordeal.

Torda cannot eat and has lost more than 80 pounds. It’s clear he’s hungry. Stapes and Saballa say his texts express his desire for pho, Thai food and more.

"He wants to eat a Popeye’s sandwich, he wants to eat Filipino food, he wants to eat Sam’s club cupcakes,” Saballa said they try not to talk about food with him because he’s struggling.

Saballa said the few steps her son took Tuesday are a positive sign and she hopes he can be discharged in the next two weeks so they can have a family birthday celebration at home.

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