In new video series, COVID-19 survivors recount battle with the virus in their own words

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 8:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Wahiawa pediatrician who spent 10 days on a ventilator says people shouldn’t be afraid of COVID-19. They should respect it.

He’s one of several Hawaii residents speaking up about their battle with the virus — and what they wish they knew before getting sick.

Mixed messages about the severity of COVID-19 prompted Hawaii’s Department of Health to start posting experiences of patients and frontline workers.

While the vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 are able to recover at home, their stories are a reminder it’s not a guarantee.

In one of the videos, Lofa Nua talks about not being able to breathe.

“So they decided to put me on the ventilator,” he said. “They put me on the ventilator that night (in March) and I didn’t wake up until May.”

The stories are in their own words. They’re profiles of people from all walks of life, joined together by a common experience.

[To watch the videos with survivors, click here.]

“We’ve never seen anything like COVID,” said COVID unit nurse Colene Geier.

“Every week I have people who are trying to compare it to the flu. And ask how it’s different that the flu. It’s really no comparison to anything I’ve seen in my nursing career.”

The survivor series was launched Sept. 1 in hopes the testimonials would educate the public prompting more responsible behavior.

Sarah Bolles' bout with COVID-19 made her wish she would have taken the virus more seriously.

“I’m bald in the back of my head,” she said. “I had severe redness to my eyes due to the pressure of the ventilator and the amount of air they had to pump in by body.”

Behind the numbers are stories of those who suffered from COVID-19.

While each individual’s story is different, their message to the public is the same.

“Don’t be afraid of COVID but respect it,” said COVID-19 survivor Dr. Leo Pascua. “Put on your mask. Social distance. Anything on top of that is icing on the cake.”

DOH says it will be adding new stories in the coming weeks.

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