By Peter D'Oench

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A 41-year-old man who survived a brutal battle with the coronavirus is speaking out about how COVID attacked his lungs and his recovery from the deadly disease.

Lesean Mountain, a Broward public schools employee and a father of six children and a grandfather of three children, said in an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that at one point he wondered if he would survive and was told he would need a lung transplant.

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Fortunately, he did not need a lung transplant and is now in pulmonary rehabilitation at Broward Health Medical Center three days a week after being hospitalized from late April to early June at Broward Health North.

His physician, Dr. Glenn Singer of Broward Health, said, “In milder cases there can be coughing and shortness of breath. In more severe cases there can be actual pneumonia. We have had a few patients that have had permanent damage to their lungs. He had severe complications to his lungs that left him hospitalized for weeks with severe impairment.”

Watch Part 2 Of CBS4 Reporter Peter D’Oench’s Exclusive Story:

 

Mountain shared photos with CBS4 of him in the hospital and video of him at home with a respiratory therapist and a nurse while learning to walk again as well as photos of his loved ones.

He said, “On April 29th I was not feeling good and I went to the hospital. I was admitted and rushed in to ICU and stayed in there for close to 44 or 45 days. They said I had pneumonia and they put two holes in me on the side and drained my lungs. It was real scary. I was thinking about my family and about what was going to happen. I have been seeing a lot of people who have been passing away from COVID and stuff like that and so I thought for a second maybe it was the end for me. I thought why me? Why did this happen. I just really didn’t know. I was in and out a lot and I was on a lot of medication.”

Lesean learning to walk again. (Courtesy of Lesean Mountain)

Mountain added, “I was told you are going to be here for awhile and you need another lung and you will need a lung transplant and we are going to talk to you about putting you on a list, and that was really scary. This all gave me a new outlook on life.”

He credited Broward Health for helping him through this ordeal.

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”They have done an incredible job,” he said. “When I first started I was on portable oxygen.”

He is in pulmonary rehabilitation three days a week with respiratory therapist Paula Hyatt at Broward Health Medical Center.

“For my recovery I come to therapy and I do treatment. And 20 to 30 minutes a day I lift weights and I am on a machine called the rowing machine and I do ellipticals and I do it all. I am definitely going to make it,” he said.

Dr. Singer said, “Pulmonary rehabilitation is a cornerstone to pulmonary recovery. Pulmonary rehabilitation is about supervised exercise training. It is about education and self management. We have a great staff here of respiratory therapists with monitors and we are helping people who were sick get back on their feet. We are helping people who are sitting get up and start walking. We are helping people who are walking get up and start running.”

Lesean getting his lungs back into shape on a treadmill. (CBS4)

Mountain said the coronavirus vaccine had just been made available before he contracted COVID.

”I didn’t act on it fast enough and I got COVID,” he said. “If you can get the vaccine, do it because this was a whole lot to go through catching COVID. I never thought I would go through someone like this in a million years. You see this happening to other people and I just thought maybe I would be able to dodge it and not get it but I did.”

His prognosis appears to be good.

He said he will be in pulmonary rehabilitation for another three weeks and after that will be working out at a gym because he says he had “slacked off” a bit in his exercise and used to be very athletic as a basketball player.

He has also returned to his job in facilities services at the Bright Horizons School.

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Dr. Singer said, “The COVID pandemic has been devastating. Unfortunately, a large part of the COVID population is young people who are not vaccinated so we encourage vaccinations. Vaccines are safe and effective. If you hear about people getting break through infections it does not mean that the vaccination is a failure. It means that we are limiting the severity of the disease and we are hoping that people will get vaccinated and we are highly recommending it.”

Peter D'Oench