Texas Health celebrates patient recovery after 42 days in hospital with COVID-19

Joseph DeLeon, president of Texas Health Fort Worth says goodbye to Willie.

While Tarrant County deaths from COVID-19 continue to increase, there have been 485 recoveries from the disease. Each victory is sweet encouragement to their loved ones and particularly to the health care workers who have helped the patient fight the disease.

That was certainly true for Wilifredo Merlin-Montoya (Willie), 25, who was discharged Wednesday afternoon after spending 42 days in hospital with COVID-19 at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

Hospital staff celebrated his dismissal with a parade in the lobby of the hospital. It was an emotional day for Merlin-Montoya and his care team.

Merline-Montoya hugging family. courtesy photo

Merlin-Montoya was one of the first COVID-19 patients at Texas Health Fort Worth. He went to the ER with symptoms, including shortness of breath and a high fever. He was intubated for 23 days and received convalescent plasma therapy, a treatment for people with severe respiratory damage caused by the new coronavirus. The treatment, also known as a blood plasma transfusion, is only offered at a limited number of hospitals across the country.

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Merlin-Montoya hugging brother. Photo courtesy

“We were surprised how quickly he went from speaking with us to needing immediate care,” said Kelli Long, M.S.N., R.N., C.N.M.L., manager of the Medical Surgical Progressive Care Unit at Texas Health Fort Worth.

Merlin-Montoya was reunited with his brother and girlfriend on Wednesday. He had no contact with them in the hospital except over the phone.

“We’ve seen a lot of sick patients, and to see a patient success like this is very emotional and encouraging,” Long said.