One of Arizona's first COVID-19 patients hikes Camelback Mountain with his family, doctors

An Arizona man, one of the earliest COVID-19 patients to be diagnosed in Arizona, credits an ECMO treatment for helping him recover from the virus.

On Dec. 4, 2021, Dr. Karl Viddal took a hike on Camelback Mountain accompanied by family members and his doctors from Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. The doctors are credited with saving his life.

"I chose Camelback Mountain for a couple of reasons – as a way to pay tribute to a colleague and mentor who passed away, and because it's a challenging hike, one that I wasn't sure I would ever be able to accomplish again after my time in the ICU," Viddal said.

Doctors described Viddal as one of the sickest patients in the United States when he had the virus. After more than two months in the hospital, he went home to his family on May 15, 2020.

Since Viddal was discharged from the hospital, he says he's making it a priority to exercise several times a week.

Dr. Karl Viddal at the summit of Camelback Mountain.

Dr. Karl Viddal at the summit of Camelback Mountain.

Viddal is a family care doctor, a husband, and father of three.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation treatment, according to Mayo Clinic, is when "blood is pumped outside of your body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body. Blood flows from the right side of the heart to the membrane oxygenator in the heart-lung machine, and then is rewarmed and sent back to the body."

Adding, "This method allows the blood to "bypass" the heart and lungs, allowing these organs to rest and heal."

COVID-19 numbers in Arizona continue to increase

Arizona reported 6,043 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 174 virus deaths Saturday as the pandemic’s latest surge maintained its grip on the state.

The new cases add to the 5,236 reported Friday and are just the second time the state has seen more than 5,000 cases on two consecutive days since January’s winter surge.

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