In a interview by KBTX in Bryan, Texas, Gabriel Menchaca tells how he woke up from a coma to news that his father had also contracted COVID-19 and was not going to survive.
Gabriel Menchaca was one of the first COVID-19 patients in Brazos County. He spent almost a month in a coma at Baylor Scott and White Health. He learned that his father had been in the same hospital dying from the virus when he woke up. Menchaca lost his father on April 13th.
When Menchaca started feeling symptoms, he went to the hospital and got tested for COVID-19. The first hospital sent him home without tessting him. His symptoms got worse so he went to a different hospital and got tested. "I got to Baylor Scott and White and tell them my medical history, what I've been through. I've had cancer and I have diabetes and they took me right in. They took me right in," Menchaca said. He received medicine for his symptoms and was sent home to self-isolate while he waited on test results.
He found out a few days later in a news conference that someone in their 30s who had not travel history had tested positive for COVID-19.
"Nobody called me," he said. "My mom and my girlfriend both asked 'Gabriel, is that you?' and I said, 'No, no.' Just to get closure and be on the safe side I called the health department. They asked me my name and I told them Emilio Menchaca and they said 'Yes sir, you're the one.'"
He was told to remain home, but days later his condition worsened and required medical attention. "Two days later I'm waking up and I'm coughing. I'm struggling hard. I'm coughing. I can't breathe. My chest is so tight, and it hurt," he said. He was rushed to the hospital and put in a room alone. He says he laid down and that's the last he remembers.
"I remember I was tired because I haven't had much rest. So I laid down, and that was the last thing I remember. Next thing I know it's a month later," said Menchaca.
He woke up weeks later in a room with nurses and doctors. He phoned his family. "I called my mom, and she's crying, and her response was, "Whoever this is you better stop playing." She's crying. I kept saying, "This is me, mom. It's me." And she's crying hysterically. Then my brother gets on and he's like, "Who is this?" And I kept saying, "It's me bro, it's really me."
After he slipped into a coma, no visitors where allowed in. While he was unconscious, the virus had spread through the community. Gabriel had been unaware that his father was in the same hospital in critical condition. No one alerted him until the day his father passed.
"I do remember the phone call. I'm laying in bed. It's my brother. I could tell something was wrong. I could feel it. He said dad has been in the hospital, and I said I figured. What's going on. He said yeah, they're fixing to pull the, you know. I said, 'He's not going to make it?' And he was like, "No."
Before he woke up from his coma, Gabriel says he remembers a dream or vision of his father asking him if he was ready. He believes that his father was trading places with him.
Many were surprised to find that after almost a month in a coma, Gabriel did not need physical or speech therapy. He credits his recovery to his father, his faith, and staff at Baylor Scott and White.
Watch the full interview below.
Photo: Getty Images