A COVID-19 survivor has come full circle since he first encountered an emergency room doctor in Libertyville nearly a year ago.
Michael Catania, 69, was admitted to the Condell Medical Center ER with a severe case of COVID last spring. According to Advocate Health, Catania had to be intubated and resuscitated many times. ER Dr. Halleh Akbarnia treated him and kept checking on him until he was released 15 days later.
An emergency room physician for nearly 20 years, Dr. Akbarnia said Catania’s story resonated with her unlike that of any other patient in her career.
The two have kept in touch, but on Thursday they were together for a very special reason. Catania had asked that Dr. Akbarnia be the one to give him his second dose of a COVID vaccine and she did at the same hospital where she first cared for him a year ago.
“This means everything,” Dr. Akbarnia said. “It was almost like I was hoping he was going to ask me to do this. To me, working this side of giving vaccine is about the biggest therapy that I could have. Giving him his shot was the ultimate.”
Catania said he considers Dr. Akbarnia family. He credits her and the other doctors who treated him at Advocate Condell’s emergency room and ICU with saving his life.
“I asked Dr. Akbarnia if she would give me the second shot and if that was possible, because I wanted us to share that as a closure on the whole event,” Catania said. “We started the journey together, we’re ending the journey together and I wanted that to be a part of what we both experienced.”
Catania encourages everyone to get a COVID vaccine. He said COVID is nothing to mess around with.
“Get the shot,” Catania said. “It’s not worth messing around with. Get the shot and wear a mask, and don’t do one or the other. Do both.”