Arizona Doctor Who Lost Lung Function After Battling COVID-19 for 2 Months Goes Hiking Again

While battling COVID, Dr. Karl Viddal was paralyzed and couldn't speak.

After being hospitalized for nearly two months with COVID-19 and losing much of his lung function, family physician Dr. Karl Viddal was able to hike Arizona's Camelback Mountain.

"I didn't think I'd ever be able to hike a mountain again," Viddal said. "We take our health for granted. You don't realize how precious it is until it's taken away from us. Coming out of the coma, I was paralyzed. I couldn't speak."

Physicians credit treatment with an ECMO machine for saving Dr. Viddal's lung function during his coma. According to the American Thoracic Society, it essentially replaces the function of the heart and lungs.

"The amazing thing is they've returned to normal," Dr. Ross Bremner from the Norton Thoracic Institute explained. "But with the ECMO circuit, we were able to rest the lungs and allow the body to heal them."

Even as a medical professional, Dr. Viddal says It's hard to believe this happened to him, and that without any past medical issues, the virus nearly ended his life.

"it's humbling," he said. "Learning how to walk again. Learning how to speak again."

Now, this 46-year-old doctor can return to his wife and three children after climbing Camelback Mountain and thanking the other doctors who helped him on his journey back to good health.

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