An Atlanta man who survived COVID-19 is telling his story of survival and the drug he believes may have saved his life.
On April 19, Bill Clark was wheeled out of Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital with a line of doctors and nurses applauding him with the theme to “Rocky” playing in the background. The 57-year-old attorney had checked in just four days earlier.
“I honestly cannot do justice trying to describe just how emotional it was. I completely lost it when I got in the car with my wife and could barely speak. I said, ‘I’m just so thankful to be alive’,” describing the moment to WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
Clark was admitted on April 15, more than a week after he started having symptoms including congestion, headache, bad cough, and a fever between 101-102 that “just wouldn’t go away.”
Having been in contact with his doctor for more than a week, he was urged to go to Emory St. Joseph’s for testing. It was something that he had been avoiding.
“A hospital was the worst place to go it seemed like. You know stories all over the county and all over world of people going into the hospital and dying or at least being subjected to a bunch of other sick patients,” he recalls.
Already sleeping and eating apart from his wife and daughter for nearly a week, he decided to heed his doctor’s advice and head to the hospital. With scans and x-rays indicating pneumonia, he was admitted. By the next day, his test for COVID-19 came back positive.
As bad as he felt, when his doctor approached him about being part of a clinical trial being conducted by Emory University for a drug called Remdesivir, he was initially reluctant.
He recalls telling his doctor, “You know doc I’d love to be helpful as you guys are trying to figure this out. But frankly, I’m in the hospital and I’m sick and I’m kind of terrified of what’s going on. I want a treatment. I don’t really want the placebo. I want a treatment.”
>>Listen to Sandra Parrish’s full on-air report below.
But Clark ultimately agreed to participate not knowing if he was being given the drug or a placebo. Four days later he was able to walk out of the hospital. He still doesn’t know which one he received.
“I’m more than two weeks out of the hospital and they either don’t know or won’t tell me,” he says.
Clark also doesn’t know how he caught the virus. He is healthy and had recently lost weight and thought he was taking all the safety precautions so as not to get it. He does recall a quick run into a restaurant without a mask to pickup food and an encounter at a grocery store with another shopper who wasn’t practicing social distancing.
But even though he has had the virus, he’s not ready to return to his pre-social distancing days just yet. He is worried he could catch it again.
“I’m going to continue practicing social distancing for quite some time and so is my family,” says Clark.
He also has a message for others who haven’t had it or don’t know anyone who has.
“It only takes one exposure to wind up positive for COVID-19 and possibly dying from it. People stay home,” he says.