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Father wins fight for life in battle with COVID-19

Mike Auletta was in hospital for 6 weeks, missed mother's unexpected passing

Mike Auletta of Pepper Pike, Ohio, battled COVID-19 in the hospital for six weeks.
Mike Auletta of Pepper Pike, Ohio, battled COVID-19 in the hospital for six weeks. (Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic News Service)

More than 2 million people have been sickened by COVID-19 in the United States -- some severely.

But, 60-year-old Mike Auletta of Pepper Pike, Ohio, didn’t have any serious health issues, and never expected to be one of them.

So, when he wasn’t feeling well, he figured it was something minor.

“I was getting shortness of breath and a cough, kind of a dry cough,” said Auletta. “So, I went and saw my doctor and he told me that he thought I had a sinus infection because I do get them periodically.”

Auletta’s symptoms worsened and a week later, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and quarantined at home.

“I’ve had bronchitis in my life, I’ve had pneumonia and this cough that was associated with the COVID-19 was unbearable,” Auletta said.

Before long, he was struggling to breathe.

“When he kind of reached out to me in the middle of the night on March 22nd that he couldn’t breathe and he needed to go to the hospital, I called 911 very calmly and off he went,” said Auletta’s wife, Angela.

Auletta spent the next several weeks at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital -- many of those on a ventilator.

“Every single organ is suffering because of the lack of oxygen, because of the high inflammation that the COVID-19 causes so, we had started to see all of that in him,” said Dr. Ravi Sunderkrishnan, of Cleveland Clinic.

Auletta spent six weeks in the hospital. He missed Easter, his wife’s own battle with the disease, and the unexpected passing of his mother.

“The morning I found out, I actually called her to tell her, ‘Hey we did it, we made it!’ and of course she didn’t answer,” Auletta said. “Then the next day I got mad because I didn’t get to tell her, but I think she knows. My son said she sent me back.”

Doctors treated Auletta with everything they had at the time -- and slowly he began to recover. After a short stint in rehab, he’s finally home, counting his blessings.

“We don’t know how much time we have so, that time should be spent with family and friends and just enjoying what we have because like I said, I came out of an induced coma and my mother was gone. I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Auletta said. “So, just enjoy -- enjoy your kids, enjoy your parents, your friends, that’s what life’s about.”

Auletta said he still feels short of breath at times but is getting stronger every day.

He’s looking forward to a quiet Father’s Day spent with family.