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Valley doctor makes remarkable recovery after 55 days of COVID-19 treatment

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Posted at 3:25 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 16:21:53-04

PHOENIX — A Valley physician, believed to be among the most critically ill from COVID-19 in the U.S., has made a remarkable recovery.

Dr. Karl Viddal was released Friday from Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center after aggressive rounds of treatment and nearly eight weeks in the hospital.

Karl Viddal giving thumbs up

The 46-year-old family practice physician was diagnosed with the virus earlier this year after returning from a trip abroad, and spent 55 days being treated at a hospital. He was initially given a 100% mortality expectation from COVID-19.

He survived 34 days on a ventilator, 28 days in a medically induced coma, and 16 days on an ECMO.

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Officials say no other Arizonan diagnosed with the virus has spent longer on an ECMO machine, an advanced form of life-support that performs essential functions of the heart and lungs, and survived.

Dr. Viddal was also given two doses of a drug commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis, called tocilizumab, to help treat the severe pneumonia.

"Karl's story of perseverance and survival is a beacon of hope for all of those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," says Dr. Ross Bremner, thoracic surgeon and director of St. Joseph's Norton Thoracic Institute.