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Opinion: My friend survived COVID-19 but will never truly ‘recover’

Long-term damage is being discovered
COVID-19 vaccine
A senior male is about to receive a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine. - Photograph via Getty Images

One thing that has been lost in all the talk about COVID-19 numbers is the long-term damage caused by the virus.

People are – rightly – concerned about the death toll taken by the pandemic, which now numbers in the millions around the world.

But what about people who get COVID-19 and then are listed as having “recovered” by health officials.

I find this term a little misleading because many people will never truly “recover” after getting sick.

Oh, sure, they are released from hospital and go on to function again.

Some people, however, face a lifetime of damage.

I have written previously about having two people close to me being hospitalized by COVID-19.

My cousin, age 50ish, is now home and trying to regain his strength, but has already been told by his doctors to expect long-term respiratory problems.

But buddy, who is in his early 40s, has been given even more dire news by his doctor. During follow ups, the doctor told my friend he will experience long-term respiratory issues, but that his heart has also been damaged.

“You will never been the same,” the doctor said, “so you need to take steps to lessen the damage.”

That kind of blunt talk hit my friend hard. He was a bit of a COVID-denier and laughed off masks, but has now done a reversal and is beating himself up over how he contracted the virus.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, told Reuters for a story.

Doctors are still discovering all sorts of health issues with people who have “recovered.”

As my friend and cousin can attest, it’s not enough to just say “whew, they’ve recovered.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.