An Illinois man who nearly died last year from COVID-19 has now been fully vaccinated by the same doctor who helped save his life while he was battling the virus.
Last April, Mike Catania's story of recovery went viral after Advocate Condell Medical Center worker Dr. Halleh Akbarnia wrote an emotional Facebook post about the patient's harrowing experience.
On Friday, nearly 11 months after Catania almost lost his life to the virus, he received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine from Akbarnia at the same hospital where he was initially treated, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
Catania, who was one of the first seriously ill COVID patients to be treated at the center, said he doesn't remember much about his experience other than it was "a grueling period of time."
"There are parts I wish I could forget," he told the outlet Friday.
During Catania's time at the hospital, the 69-year-old retired teacher was intubated for over a week and almost died on several occasions.
Still, Akbarnia said Catania actually helped to comfort the medical staff during his stay.
"He basically made us comfortable about doing whatever we could to take care of him. It's a unique thing a patient can do for you," Akbarnia said.
The doctor echoed similar sentiments about Catania in her now-viral Facebook post.
"The entire time we were treating him, he was telling us how much he respected what we were doing and how much he appreciated us," Akbarnia recalled. "He was saying we were angels — just telling us all these things as we were prepping to do procedures on him. It was mind-blowing to me that he had the strength to be able to say this through probably the worst day of his life."
Catania became so close with Akbarnia that he brought her a special gift at his vaccination appointment.
The retired teacher now hopes that his story will help people understand the importance of getting the vaccine.
"If you get a chance to get it, get the shot," Catania said Friday. "Just take the best shot you can at reducing your chance to be seriously ill or die from this virus."
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