Hawaii man finally returns home after month-long fight for his life against COVID-19

An Ewa Beach man has been released from the hospital after weeks battling Covid-19.
Updated: May. 14, 2020 at 9:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Ewa Beach man who spent more than a month battling COVID-19 was finally released from the hospital Thursday.

Gaualofa Nua, 45, was wheeled through a corridor at the Queen’s Medical Center, where he was cheered and applauded by the dozens of doctors, nurses and others who cared for him since the end of March.

Nua became ill shortly after returning from an construction expo in Las Vegas that he attends every year.

“His chest hurt, he was coughing, and he just couldn’t shake this,” said his wife, Tanya Nua. “He had the chills, but when we checked his temperature he had a slight fever.”

Nua says there are a few nurses in the family who urged him to get tested. He came back positive and was admitted to Queen’s on March 26. His condition quickly deteriorated, and he was placed on a ventilator.

“Despite our best efforts, his lungs got worse. And his lungs got worse to the point that even the ventilator wasn’t enough to support him,” said Dr. Dpianjuan Banerjee, an advanced heart failure cardiologist at Queen’s.

Doctors put him on what’s known as an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, machine. It’s only used as a last resort when a patient’s heart and lungs fail.

“So he needed ECMO, which basically takes the blood out of his body, runs it through and oxygenator and brings it bakc to him and allows his lungs to recover,” said Banerjee.

“We had nothing to lose at this point,” Nua said she was told by relatives. “If they’re offering that, if they’re asking that, then something’s going on and we need to do whatever we can.”

After a week, he was well enough to be taken off the machine. But the ordeal wasn’t over yet.

“They get him to the medical ICU and we’re thinking the worst is over and he’s out of the woods, and I think even in the medical ICU they almost lost him twice, his heart stopped,” said Nua.

“This patient in particular, even after they came off of the ECMO support, developed significant presumed clotting that led to heart dysfunction and led to a prolonged recovery,” added Banerjee.

It was difficult for Nua and their son. During the ordeal, she wasn’t allowed to visit her high school sweetheart and husband of 21 years.

But Gaualofa Nua persisted. Having a tube down his throat for several weeks has made it difficult for him to speak, but his first action on returning home spoke volumes, according to his wife.

“The first ting he did was go lay down in our bed because as much care and love and comfort that he got at Queen’s, he was still like, ‘I want my own bed.’"

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