COVID-19 survivors recount battling severe illness early on in the pandemic: Part 1

Raul Pero and Titou Phommachahn became severely ill with COVID-19 in March, forcing doctors to place them on ventilators for weeks. As Titou was reunited with his family, Raul continues to fight.
8:59 | 08/15/20

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Transcript for COVID-19 survivors recount battling severe illness early on in the pandemic: Part 1
First thing I want to say to raoul is hi. It's been a long time. 'S been seven weeks since Aaron decepi has seen his husband, raoul Perra. I've been carrying around his wedding ring, I'm going to give that back. Despite being healthy and young at 39, raoul was whisked into the icu for what became a hard-fought battle with covid-19. With pneumonia in both lungs, he would spend 30 days on a The closer I get to this actually happening, the more real it becomes. I think that this whole experience has been so surreal, it's kind of like hard to believe until you see it. As cases continue to rise throughout the country, this week the CDC predicting 200,000 deaths by the fall. Tonight we meet two fighters, neither elderly near infirmed, pushed to the brink by covid-19. Their families forced to watch from afar. It's the longest five minutes I've ever had in my life. Reporter: Their journeys, reminders of how much we have to learn about this silent threat. And for some, leaving the hospital is just the beginning of a long road back. What's keeping you up at night? The fear that my husband is not going to come home to me. And then of course just the fear that this is going to get so much worse. We first spoke with Aaron back in March, days after raoul was interbaited. When was the last time you got to see him face-to-face. So we were in the emergency room, and he was in so much pain. They said, hey, we're going to admit raoul to the hospital, and there are no visitors allowed in the hospital right now. And I said I was so sorry and that he was going to get Bert and stay strong for us. Oh, I'm so sorry, honey. So I took him in to the hospital on Sunday. On Tuesday he went onto the ventilator. And they were very specific with me that they still thought that the virus was going to be increasing and that he was going to get sicker and sicker. The pandemic an idyllic twist in their otherwise great love story. How did you meet? The good old-fashioned way, we met on line about ten years ago. We took a little hike and had ice cream. They moved to Denver where they now live. For their anniversary, they were looking forward to another hike. Tuesday, was our second wedding anniversary and the day he was moved out of the icu and put on a ventilator. Across the country in Virginia, a father's day celebration in June that almost wasn't. For Tetu, moments like these all more precious. Something I used to take for granted, now I appreciate every sort of moment with them now. Our faith was a big part of in my peace and survival in getting through it all was kind of knowing that he wasn't, it wasn't his time and he was going to make it. How did your faith sustain you during those dark days especially? A lot of prayer. A lot of hope. I learned to turn my fear into faith was one of the sermons early on, actually the day he was diagnosed. That was the son in our church, turning fear into faith. And I struggle with that. In March, his wife Amanda was preparing for the worst as he fought for his life at a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. A lung specialist was one of his doctors. We started him on heparin while he was still on mechanical ventilation, continuous dialysis. You're doing various things, and it's difficult to know what worked. You threw everything you had at him. Yes, we did. Tetu was the first be treated at the hospital with the drug remdesivir. The doctor turned to a more invasive procedure, a special machine called an ecmo. It goes through a pump, a centrifugal pump and through a membrane lung and you return it to another large vein, like dialysis for the lungs. And so this machine basically filters and oxygenates your blood for you. Yeah, it removes carbon dioxide and infuses oxygen. It's the longest five minutes of waiting I've ever done in my life. For Tetu, those aggressive treatments and outside the box thinking worked. My baby, hi! Weeks later, Amanda was there ready to bring him home. I love you so much. What was the first thing you said to your daughters? That I loved them. That daddy was fighting. Thank you, doctors and nurses for saving our dad! My first day here was in the er on March 22nd. Okay. And I was having high fever for like three days, so high husband decided to take me to the er. Do you remember about waking up? What was that like? It was hard, because you didn't know if it was real or it wasn't. After almost two months in the hospital, the gravity of raoul's ordeal simmers just below the surface. I knew where I was, I guess, they first ask you, you know who you are? Do you know where you are? And do you know why you are here for? And then they ask you, do you know what day it is, and I didn't have any idea. He'd spent 30 days on a ventilator here at uc health in Colorado. I freaked out because a lot of time had passed. I freaked out because I had my interview for a citizen-scheduled for April 14, and I was oh, my god, I can't believe I missed it. In those first days, breathing on his own he still couldn't speak and could barely move, and due to covid-19 restrictions, he could only see his husband Aaron through face time. It was amazing because I was getting to see him, hough, it was terrifying and horrible because I was seeing my husband who had lost 50 pounds, so you're trying to be as strong as possible for him and not convey that hey, I'm worried. My hard time started when I woke up. He was so happy, telling me you're going to be fine. I could not move. Everything hurt. Describe that pain for me. I never thought it could be possible that your whole skin just hurts. Anywhere in your body. Despite searing nerve and muscle pain, raoul quickly became focussed on his recovery. Bill Neehouse was one of his doctors. He started to put together all the things that had happened to him. And from the get-go, he had this fire to get home. You can just tell when you talk to him that nothing's going to stand in his way. I know that the doctors said it was you who was the fighter. It was you who was determined to get home for Aaron's birthday. What drove you so hard? Well, I just was ready. I made my goal that I want to be home by his birthday, which was may 10th. One of the therapists came and told me and said, you know what? We are going to release you on may 8.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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