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‘I was not okay’: 22-year-old urges young population to change perspective surrounding COVID-19

Click to play video: 'A terrifying COVID-19 variant experience' A terrifying COVID-19 variant experience
A 22-year-old is urging young people to change their perspective on COVID-19 after he contracted one of the variants and says - he was not okay. Global's Anya Nazeravich has the story – Apr 12, 2021

On March 14, Peter Soliman’s dad received a phone call that shifted the course of their lives.

His dad was a close contact of someone with the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC).

Everyone in their home tested negative until two days later — his mom was positive.

On March 19, Peter tested positive as well.

Soliman thought he would be fine. He’s 22-years-old, works out and eats healthy and thought, at worst, he’d have bad flu symptoms.

Read more: Coronavirus: possible variant exposure in Winnipeg, 135 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba Saturday

“Before you know it, oxygen levels were dropping at a very, very bad rate,” Soliman said.

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His sister, who is a nurse and received the Pfizer vaccine, never tested positive for the variant.

Soliman said his sister is a hero, and taught them how to check their oxygen levels so she could help monitor their conditions.

Soliman’s mom was the first to go to the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath. Only a few days later, Soliman was in an ambulance on his way to Grace Hospital where he would inevitably be sent home.

A day after being sent home from Grace Hospital, he was in the St. Boniface Hospital emergency department. He was admitted on March 25, placed on oxygen and given IV fluids.

“The first four to five days were very rough,” Soliman said.

Simple tasks like going to the bathroom were draining, the 22-year-old shared.

“You’re just sitting there hoping the next hour, the next day or sometime soon, something is going to change,” he said.

There was no explanation for why a healthy man in his 20s was so ill other than VOC cases reportedly being more infectious.

Soliman said, he wished there was something playing a bigger factor, like a disease or heart condition, just so he would have more answers.

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“I don’t,” he said. “You definitely don’t want to just think that you’re sitting there invincible and protected just because you’re healthy.”

Soliman, his mom and dad all wound up in hospital with the B.1.1.7 VOC. His dad was the last to be transported by ambulance when he suddenly couldn’t breathe.

Read more: ‘We’re in the beginning of a third wave’: Vaccine task force lead says next actions are critical

All three of them also contracted pneumonia due to the virus.

Now, Soliman is sharing his story on Instagram in hopes of spreading awareness the virus doesn’t care how old you are.

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“It hit me, it hit me very hard,” he explained. “My body felt like it was running a marathon every day.”

Soliman said the weight loss he’s experienced is significant, “my arms are like sticks now.”

The family remained in hospital for roughly nine days and are still trying to recover at home.

After being bed-bound for 21 days, Soliman said you don’t realize the impact it has on your body and your brain.

“Having conversations, nothing comes quickly,” he said.

He expects they’ll still be recovering months down the road, calling the virus one of the toughest things he’s had to go through in his life.

“People should really change their perspective thinking that being young is some kind of a free pass,” he said. “It really isn’t.”

A Shared Health spokesperson told Global News as of Monday seven of the 33 patients in intensive care units with COVID-19 are under the age of 50, and 25 of the 135 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are also under the age of 50.

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