WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Andy Hooper is smiling today. The last time we spoke with the 46 year old from Natural Bridge, it was a quite a different story.
Hooper tested positive for COVID-19 in late March. In April, he was in a hospital bed, hooked up to oxygen and struggling to catch his breath.
His case was so severe that he was intubated - put on a ventilator for weeks - fighting for his life.
Nearly 7 months after we first spoke with him, Hooper says he is still struggling with his health.
“I’m still not 100 percent. A lot of wheezing, a lot of coughing, heavy breathing. Just walking up the stairs with a pile of clothes, I’m still out of wind,” he said.
And it’s not just his lungs.
“I’m actually finding out that it affected my heart a lot. My heart has actually reduced its functioning by a third. So it’s only pumping like 45 percent, which is the cause of a lot of my exhaustion and breathing,” he said.
“We monitor him closely despite being recovered from the illness,” said Dr. Canh Tran, internal medicine physician at Clifton-Fine Hospital.
Tran was one of the doctors who worked with Hooper on his recovery. Hooper says he’s grateful for Dr. Tran and others who helped him see another day.
“You pretty much saved my life. You pretty much saved my life. My kids thank you; my wife thanks you,” said Hooper.
“It’s unfortunate that he still has discomfort or still struggles with the residual virus late effects, but I think you know making out of that phase where he was intubated and being alive today and recovering is a great blessing,” said Dr. Tran.
Now, Hooper has a message for the north country - one he hopes will resonate.
“It’s real so definitely wear your mask, social distance, do what you need to do. Seven months later, I’m going to be going to a specialist in Boston sometime soon and I never thought this point in my life that I’d have to do that,” said Hooper.