This article is part of a series called “COVID Survivor Stories,” where we profile the struggles of those who survived a diagnosis of COVID-19, as they deal with the repercussions of recovery.
Father and daughter Yevgeniy and Sabrina Kaminer both tested positive for COVID-19 in January, but are on the road to recovery and have remained optimistic with every bump in the road.
The Brooklyn residents each had different but harrowing experiences with the disease. Yevgeniy, 65, was in the hospital for 73 days, 50 of which were on a ventilator. Sabrina, 22, recovered from home and describes being afraid for her father’s well-being throughout his ordeal.
“Every time the phone rang, I was scared,” she said. “I would start shaking uncontrollably.”
The small business owner and karate coach had a 50 percent chance of survival when he was told he had to go on a ventilator, but he took his chances as staying on an IV and medication would have only given him a 15 percent chance to live.
He promised his family that he would come out of this alive.
“The last thing he said to us that he promised that he would come back,” said Sabrina, “and my dad doesn’t break promises. So I had that faith in him.”
The whole journey was touch and go, as there were moments were Yevgeniy was showing signs of vitality, such as an increased heart rate and breath rate, only to revert back to his comatose state.
“It was like something out of a horror movie,” said Sabrina.
Both Sabrina and her mom visited the hospital each day, which Yevgeniy was grateful for.
“Sabrina and my wife stayed in the hospital from the morning to the evening every day,” he said. “Every day, they brought food for me. The hospital did not provide exactly what I needed for me because I’m vegan, and they made it home every day fresh.”
Sabrina, meanwhile, contracted COVID alongside the rest of the family and her boyfriend. The experience was a wake-up call for her of just how serious the disease is.
“A pandemic is terrible, it is detrimental to your mental health, but [staying home all day] is nothing for mental health compared to what COVID can do to it,” she said. “There’s such a bigger picture to it that I personally didn’t see or understand until I went through it myself.”
She describes having lost 15 pounds during her ordeal, and having a bad appetite.
“It got to a point where I was just eating candy, just to eat something,” she said, “because I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to sleep.”
Through it all, both Yevgeniy and Sabrina had just one message: Never give up.
“You have to push yourself over pain,” he said. “In the hospital. I had resistant bands. I had some physical exercise equipment which my daughter brought to me. I used it to just push myself to work out, to just bring energy to my body and build my muscle even if I’m in a bed.”
“Now that he’s home and out of this, he’s not scared of anything,” she said. “He right away said ‘don’t let this stop your life.'”