Man on ventilator for over a month, wife urges Utahns to get vaccinated

Local News

Northern Utah (ABC4) – The ICU at Davis Hospital and Medical Center is being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. One family is encouraging others to get vaccinated after calling that ICU home for the last month.

“I wish more than anything in the world, I wish I would have gotten vaccinated,” Teshia Magallanes told ABC4. “I wish I would have gotten my husband vaccinated because he almost died.”

Mrs. Magallanes is a wife, mother, and now a COVID-19 survivor as well. On August 24, her world was flipped upside down. She explained, “My husband, while I was in one room, I heard from another nurse that he was being admitted to the ICU.”

Magallanes told ABC4 this happened after she and her high school sweetheart and husband of 24 years, Julian, had been feeling sick for two weeks. The family believes they caught COVID-19 at their daughter’s quinceanera. Magallanes explained that days after the party, nearly the entire family began to feel ill. It finally got bad enough that she and her husband decided they needed to go to the hospital.

Mrs. Magallanes was released from care shortly after arrival (she would end up back in the hospital two days later). Her husband needed to be admitted to the ICU, but it was full. She said she was able to wait in the emergency room with him for hours until an ICU bed became available. One Mr. Magallanes was placed in the ICU his wife said “he was, um, put on a ventilator.”

He remained on one for 36 days.

On Wednesday, September 29, doctors took Mr. Magallanes off the ventilator and gave him a tracheostomy. On Thursday his family began to see real improvement for the first time in a month. “He can’t talk but he moves his lips, and it’s our first day that he’s been awake, and alert, and conscious,” Teshia Magallanes stated.

Throughout the entire experience, Teshia Magallanes has stayed by her husband’s side. She explained that many of the hospital staff now know her by name. She is grateful for the emotional support they’ve given her, and she’s thankful the hospital could even take them in.

“I watch a room open up and there’s someone rolled right back into that room,” Mrs. Magallanes said. “It’s not ever empty for very long.”

The couple’s 20-year-old son Alex has been taking care of his two siblings. For a period of time, while his mom was still sick, he was the only one who could visit Mr. Magallanes. Alex told ABC4 that the Friday after this happened he was driving home and “cried harder” than he had in his entire life as he realized he may now be responsible for taking care of his mom and siblings. All while putting on a brave face for his mom.

“It was hard,” Alex said through a sigh. “It was probably the worst thing I’ve ever been through.”

Even when the outcome looked grim, Alex had hope his dad would push through.

“I’m supposed to graduate this semester (from college) but I didn’t even apply for graduation because I didn’t want to graduate unless my dad was there to see me.”

There is still a long road to recovery and even before Mr. Magallanes has been released from care, the family is sharing their story in hopes of preventing it from happening to others. They are encouraging everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated to make it a priority. “Like I like to say, ‘He wears the pants in the house but I’m the one that picks them out every day.’ That type of thing, like if I would have just put my foot down and said, ‘Okay, kids today is the day we’re going to go.” You know, and I just didn’t push that.”

Mrs. Magallanes told ABC4 the family planned on getting vaccinated but just didn’t think it was something they needed to hurry and do. Alex said he already had his vaccine. Mrs. Magallanes has to wait until 90 days have passed from when she contracted COVID-19 in order to get the vaccine. She said she plans to get it the day she is eligible.

Mrs. Magallanes expressed gratitude for the hospital staff as well as her husband’s employer. She said the employer called her to tell her he is keeping her husband on salary while he’s recovering. Through tears, she told ABC4 that is the only reason she’s been able to stay by her husband’s side all this time.

The chief nursing officer for the hospital, Chris Johnson, said medical staff have built a strong relationship with the Magallanes family. He told ABC4 he believes Mrs. Magallanes’ sharing of her family’s story will help others make informed desicions about the vaccine. He told ABC4 when one person gets vaccinated it creates a “ripple effect” in the community that improves everyone’s safety during the pandemic.

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