MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. — Jim Santilli is recovering at his home, one week after learning he tested positive for coronavirus.
The CEO of the Transportation Improvement Association said he started feeling sick on March 18th, with a sudden onset of severe respiratory and cardiac issues.
"It came on fast, it came on hard, and as I can best put it, it will quickly suck the life right out of you," he said.
Santilli was admitted to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, where his condition grew worse. Although he didn't have a fever, the 38-year-old was tested for COVID-19.
"My heart rate was actually in the 160's, my blood pressure was through the roof, I was having trouble breathing, I was having wheezing, I had a cough," he explained. "By Saturday March 21st, it was so bad that morning, I just I remember laying there, and thinking I wasn't going to make it till midnight, just as I was gasping for air. I literally felt like I was slowly drowning."
Santilli said an infectious disease doctor was then brought in to assess his case.
"He said I want to try, a non-approved experimental treatment, that's the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, that's the same treatment President Trump recently mentioned during a press conference... at that point, my response was what do I have to lose?"
By March 22nd, Santilli learned he was, in fact, positive for coronavirus. But, he also started feeling better.
"The gasping for air stopped, my vitals were improving, just overall I had a pretty much a 180 degree turn, it was incredible, in fact I was in tears, just because I couldn't believe the huge relief that I just had."
By March 24th, Santilli was released from the hospital. He said he's grateful for the nurses and doctors risking their lives to save his.
"It is truly a miracle," he said."It worked, I'm proof that it worked and I really think the American people can have hope that we have something that can help people, that can save lives."
Santilli said he is feeling better each day, and is remaining isolated at home, as he continues to recover.
He's not sure where he was exposed to the virus, but said he did receive an email when he was in the hospital saying that a building that he had recently visited in Troy, Michigan had an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19.
He's warning others to take the virus seriously.
"This is one thing I want people to know, COVID- 19 is no joke."