How a Berrien County doctor beat the coronavirus

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - A Berrien County doctor who nearly died from the coronavirus is sharing his survival story.

"My chances of survival were somewhere one-in-ten," Dr. Hamel said.

Dr. Lowel Hamel is the Chief Operating Officer for Spectrum Lakeland Health in St. Joseph Michigan. He is the twin brother to President & CEO of Spectrum Health Lakeland, Dr. Loren Hamel. And after contracting the virus in early-April, he now is a COVID-19 survivor.

"The most challenging part was being healthy, doing everything I could to try and protect myself, and not only contracting the virus but getting rapidly worse," Hamel says.

With his condition worsening at a fast pace, Hamel had to be put on a ventilator but before he was, his daughter, who works in the ICU at the same hospital, gave him something special.

"My daughter made a beautiful poster board of family pictures so that the last thing I would see before I was ventilated and the first thing I would see after is the family reasons why I should continue to fight for the people I love," Hamel says.

Fortunately, Hamel did survive but had it not been for a special treatment, Hamel says he believes he would not have made it.

"The day I was on the ventilator, I got the plasma, convaleciente serum, from somebody that recovered from COVID. Then, three days after that, I was much better. Even though I was on a ventilator, it looked like I was going to survive," Hamel says.

After seven days on the ventilator, and weeks of recovery, Hamel was able to return home after beating the virus that nearly took his life.
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"Berfore ventilation, I had a chance to talk to my family and my wife and I thought that would be the last time I spoke with them," Hamel said. "Seeing it from the inside, it was just inspiring how well the team was taking care of the medical needs, taking care of the infection prevention needs, and just the love and support and prayers that I was lucky enough to receive from my colleagues, and friends, and coworkers."

Hamel says he is ready to get back on the frontlines and help those fighting the virus survive it just like he did.