Veteran fighting COVID-19 gets medical treatment thanks to family's efforts

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A marine veteran fighting for his life against COVID-19 is finally getting the help he needs, thanks to the efforts from his family.

Within days of being diagnosed with the coronavirus, Tony Gonzalez was in a hospital bed fighting to stay alive.

After testing positive, doctors decided to send Gonzalez home to try and fight the virus himself.

"My parents both stepped up and tried to nourish him," Gonzalez's sister, Angie Gonzalez, said. "But the rapid decline was just too much."

Once Gonzalez was admitted into a Weslaco hospital, doctors told the family he needed extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines to help his chances of recovery.

The treatment, unavailable in the Rio Grande Valley, pumps oxygenated blood outside the patient's body, so the heart and lungs can rest.

"He was intubated and sedated," Angie said. "From there, we were frantically looking for someone to accept him at a hospital in San Antonio so [that] he could get the ECMO treatment."

Family members began to call hospitals in other cities and wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott to find a resolution.

"We kept getting no's, and no's, and no's," Gonzalez's sister Vanessa Rodriguez said. "Until the last call that I received [was] a yes."

Their plea to save their brother's life finally got an answer when the community began to share their story online; Med-Care Air volunteered to take Gonzalez to a hospital in San Antonio, where he is still receiving treatment.

Though Gonzalez remains unconscious and intubated, his family says his vitals are improving.


7 Days