When Petru Dobrean was feeling ill in March 2020, he could not put a name on the exhaustion, pain and weakness he was experiencing. After two weeks of not getting better and a long day of not wanting to eat, Petru’s son Adrian told him to call him if he needs to go to the hospital.
“He was always healthy for his age, but when I went to see him, he could not stand up and was not consuming food,” says Adrian. “That’s when we called 911.”
Adrian’s brother George rushed to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) to be by his father’s side and to translate for him. After an MRI and a CT scan, the unthinkable became reality. The virus that swept the globe was now in their father’s system. Petru has COVID-19.
The doctors in the Emergency Room told Adrian and George that they had to decide whether or not they wanted to put their father on a ventilator. They had to make the decision within two minutes because time was running out. With Petru’s levels dropping every hour, the brothers decided to put Petru on a ventilator.
“I had calls with the doctors daily. I took time off work to do research and have time to speak to everyone who was taking care of my father,” says Adrian. “The staff were so patient and thorough. To me, these doctors, nurses and specialists are superhumans.”
Unfortunately, Petru’s health started to decline. After three weeks, his chance of survival dropped to 10 percent. Once again, Adrian and his brother had to discuss whether or not they thought it was time to let their father go.
But it wasn't Petru's time, so he kept fighting.
“I had no idea what to do because there was nothing left to do. Then I thought, ‘Why don’t I take my father’s iPhone, put a SIM card in it, and configure everything?’ Since my wife works at OTMH, I asked her if she could drop the phone off to the ICU.”
Adrian called the ICU and asked the nurses to answer the iPhone and put it on speaker when he called his father. “He may not hear me. But it’s possible,” says Adrian. “I told the nurse ‘I hope this does not trouble you too much, as I know taking care of him is first priority. I want to speak to him because I have nothing. I have nothing left. This is the only thing I can do.’”
Adrian spoke to his father as much and as often as he could.
“I started talking to him nonstop. I had the feeling that if I stopped, I might lose connection,” says Adrian. “I felt like I would let my father go if I stopped talking to him.”
Adrian would often talk for two and a half hours at a time with no break. He would tell his father stories, talk about his childhood and reminisce. Eventually, Adrian ran out of things to talk about, so he started reading his father the Romanian news.
The ICU nurse told Adrian, “Whatever you’re doing it’s working. His levels are improving.”
“All I could think about was his 10 percent chance of living,” says Adrian. “I was exhausted, but this motivated me even more to read and talk to him.”
The ICU nurses encouraged Adrian to continue talking to his father. He talked so often that one of the nurses, who is Romanian herself, thought Adrian’s voice through the phone was a Romanian radio station.
“It was nonsense. There is no scientific evidence as to whether or not it was making his health improve,” says Adrian. “But I told everyone, ‘I will stop talking to him when I hear he is able to leave the ICU.’ And that’s what I did.”
Finally, Petru’s health improved enough that he was able to leave ICU and move to another floor to continue his care.
With low muscle mass and the likelihood of him having to use an oxygen tank to breathe, Petru’s recovery continued in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Program. For weeks, this was Petru’s reality, but he was improving immensely, gaining his muscle back, and starting to talk and recall memories from his childhood. He is now almost fully recovered.
“It is hard for me to accept miracles,” says Adrian. “But I will accept this one. I will always be grateful to the hospital for caring for my father with such attention and love.”