Meet one of Michigan's first COVID-19 patients

To every person in Michigan, he was known as "Wayne County man with history of domestic travel." But to attending physicians and his family, he was Paul DeWyse.

DeWyse was one of the state's most famous people last March, despite no one knowing his name. But they knew why he was famous. He was the Michigan Medicine hospital's first COVID-19 patient as well as one of the state's first confirmed cases.

For DeWyse, the confirmation he had contracted a strange and unusual new disease scary. But the threat facing DeWyse was even worse in his case because of the double lung transplant he had gotten two years earlier.

In an interview with Michigan Medicine's Health Blog, he said he had been given a "cocktail of immunosuppressive meds" so his body wouldn't reject the lungs. 

"It was a harrowing journey for my wife and daughters, before my donor gave me a second chance at life with my new lungs in 2018. My lungs were functioning at 15% capacity before the transplant," says DeWyse. "Now, I’m immunocompromised and in the hospital with COVID-19, and all I knew about COVID-19 was that it was a virus that could cause illness so serious it results in death."

At the time, it was unclear what kind of effects his condition would have when mixed with the coronavirus. With knowledge now, he would be a high priority for keeping away from the disease. 

But a year ago, he just felt guilty for everything his family had to go through with him.

DeWyse was among two confirmed cases that were reported on March 10 when the state first went into lockdown. His nurse remembers the first few days vividly.

"I could tell he was nervous, but he wouldn’t try to show that when we went into his room," Allison Weber, an RN, recalls. "I remember him asking about his dog, Jazz, and if she could get sick from COVID-19. I knew he was a really good person after that."

Despite the odds, DeWyse was discharged from the hospital after 11 days, never needing a ventilator. By the time he was leaving the hospital, staff had set up the Regional Infectious Containment Unit for COVID-19-infected patients. It was full of sick people by the end of March.

This article is adapted from the Michigan Medicine Health Blog. Read the whole story here