After 114 days in ICU, Catalan COVID-19 patient soaks up seaside sunshine

Barcelona Hospital del Mar takes COVID ICU survivor beachside for
COVID-19 patient, Joan Soler Serda, 63, who is deaf-mute, reads the lips and gestures of his family members after watching the sea as part of a "sea therapy", after 114 days since he was admitted at Hospital del Mar, in Barcelona, Spain March 25, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

March 26, 2021

By Luis Felipe Castilleja and Nacho Doce

MADRID (Reuters) – Medical staff rolled Joan Soler Sendra, 63, across the street in his hospital bed to bask on the sunlit seashore, in his first outing after almost four months in intensive care in Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar.

Sendra and his two brothers were infected with the coronavirus last November in Catalunya – but only Sendra had to go to hospital.

After finally managing to breathe without a respirator this week, Sendra, the ward’s longest-staying patient, was due for some sea-and-sun therapy.

“To us it’s a shot of morale, a boost,” said Sendra’s brother, Jaume Soler, lowering his mask so that Sendra, who lost his hearing as a baby due to meningitis, could read his lips.

Dr Andrea Castellvi, deputy head of the hospital’s intensive care service, said being able to go out and see their families, the sun and the sea gave long-haul COVID-19 patients “a boost of vitality and a desire to continue fighting”.

Castellvi said Sendra’s initial symptoms were flu-like, but worsened within days to a high fever and body weakness, meaning he could neither walk nor breathe by himself. “But now we are progressing, little by little.”

(Reporting by Luis Felipe Castilleja and Nacho Doce; writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette; editing by Giles Elgood)