Pandemic: After surviving COVID, Fontana ER nurse vows to help his patients do the same

FONTANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Marcial Reyes, charge nurse at Fontana Medical Center, went from being a caregiver to a patient.

COVID-19 put him in a hospital bed fighting for his life. He has even intubated for nearly two weeks.

In an interview with ABC7, Reyes recalled feeling like he was "drowning. I was gasping for air." He said he woke up with a tube in his throat, and that was "the only time that I realized that I was really sick."

COVID-19 hit Reyes in mid-March. As if getting the virus wasn't bad enough, he passed the illness to his wife and son.

"That was the most draining part of it -- knowing that your family's sick and that you gave it to them," he said.

Reyes fought back tears thinking about what COVID-19 was doing to his family and that he was too sick himself to help them.

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"That was hard," he said. "That was hard."

His family recovering gave Reyes a sense of peace. He vowed to fight on and beat the virus himself.

"When I'm done beating this COVID, I'll be back to work fighting COVID for my patients -- that's what kept me going," he said.

Reyes did recover. Doctors told him upon getting better he would need months to recover. That wasn't good enough for him. Like a hard-charging general on the war path, fighting the coronavirus for his patients, he went back to work in record time.

Reyes was released May 13 in order to go back to work May 15.
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