Ontario Olympic athlete uses an oxygen unit while sleeping after contracting COVID-19
Published Tuesday, April 27, 2021 9:48AM EDT
An Olympic athlete from Ontario is warning others to take COVID-19 seriously after he was hospitalized with the disease and now has to use an oxygen unit while sleeping at home.
Gold medalist Alex Kopacz told CP24 on Tuesday morning that he contracted COVID-19 after returning home from a business trip in Calgary. It is not mandatory to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival into an airport when travelling between provinces.
“Within two days of returning from Pearson, I was already starting to get ravaged by a fever and a cough that just wouldn’t stop,” he said, speaking from his home.
The 31-year-old said he took himself to the hospital when he found it difficult to breath and was placed on oxygen. He said that during the days he spent in hospital, he reached out to people he knew to “make peace” and say goodbye.
He called the ordeal a “near-death experience.”
“It’s a very chaotic disease and you don’t get to choose what kind of symptoms to get once you get it,” he said while coughing. “Some people I infected with zero symptoms. I don’t know why I ended up having such awful symptoms out of everybody but it just grabbed me and left me no say as to how hard it is and how long it lasts.”
“Believe me when I say the scariest thing is when you realize there’s nothing you can do conservatively to lessen the symptoms before you get any kind of relief.”
Over the weekend, Kopaxz told CTV News London that while in the hospital, his breathing was “excruciating” and shallow.”
"I cannot describe the hallucinations I was having,” he said from his hospital bed at the time. “Eight days, the fever started to kind of back off more, and then I was stuck with this relatively crippling breathing situation. And then I was informed that a cytokine storm was coming and it may shut down your lungs all together…oh is that all?"
On Tuesday, Kopacz added that even though he has been discharged from the hospital, he still needs an oxygen unit running non-stop. If he falls asleep and the tube moves, he can feel himself “gasping for air.”
While speaking with CP24, Kopacz warned others to take the disease seriously.
“You don’t know until you have it and then once you have it, it’s too late. You’re either passing it on to other people that are going to have awful symptoms or you’re going to be in a situation where if you don’t get yourself to the hospital for a ventilator or oxygen supply, that might be your last.”