Donor Spotlight

Recovered COVID-19 patient thanks St. Michael’s with a monthly gift

"Thank you, St. Michael’s. You saved my life, and my family and I will always be grateful."

Matthew and Carol McAndrew were on holiday in Alicante, Spain, last March when COVID-19 hit the world and the federal government advised all Canadians to return home. Five days after arriving back in Toronto, they both started feeling ill, but while Carol’s illness was mild, Matthew experienced 12 days of high fever before being rushed to St. Michael’s when his blood oxygen reached a dangerously low level.

Matthew ended up spending 17 days in a coma and on a ventilator in St. Michael’s Intensive Care Unit before being extubated—and reintubated for four more days after he lost consciousness. Then he underwent a tracheostomy on the advice of Dr. Jan Friedrich, medical director of the Medical-Surgical ICU at St. Michael’s. And that’s when he finally turned a corner, according to Carol. “The treatment was exceptional,” she says. “Dr. Friedrich is an amazing man who did everything possible to help Matt.”

When he emerged from his coma, Matthew felt disoriented, and frustrated by his inability to communicate because of the tracheostomy and the pandemic lockdown. “It was really difficult not being able to see my wife and kids,” he says. “But the ICU staff were amazing. The physical care was excellent, and they put my phone on FaceTime so my family could talk to me and play music for hours on end. They had such patience and compassion. The fact that every single staff member was providing this level of care while risking their own lives is unbelievable.”

After 48 days in hospital, including nine days of rehabilitative care at Providence Healthcare, Matthew says he was glad to be going home and grateful to be on the road to recovery. “I knew I was weak,” he recalls, “but I also knew that I’d be able to get back to my former self, thanks to my physio team.”

Now healthy, Matthew and Carol decided to show their gratitude to St. Michael’s by becoming monthly donors, and he encourages others to make a donation, especially during the holidays. “It shouldn’t take a pandemic to make people consider donating to St. Mike’s, but your perspective changes when you experience something like this,” he says. “And it could happen to anyone. Supporting St. Mike’s throughout the year helps us all, but the holiday season gives everyone a perfect reason to donate. Thank you, St. Michael’s. You saved my life, and my family and I will always be grateful.”