LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – After contracting COVID-19, one East Texas father and husband thought he would die.
It’s been a long road to recovery, actually one of the longest roads for Jesus Mancha after spending 82 days in the hospital.
“I had a friend that put me on every church list in Longview, every single one of them,” said Mancha.
One April 5, Mancha was admitted to the hospital.
“Nobody would put their money on me, I would go places with my mask, early, made my boys get off, I wouldn’t touch anything,” explained Mancha.
Time with his family has always been considered treasured moments but, unexpectedly, his son became sick.
“We weren’t sure if it was the flu, we had both been in the car together and so umm, we took some medicine, tried to stick it out, I got some cough syrup. He got worse, and his fever got worse, and he started losing some of his color.”Jesus Mancha
Worried, he took his son the a clinic to get tested for COVID-19. Sadly, Mancha says they ran out of tests and figured everything would be okay because at 24 years old, he didn’t fit the criteria of the “at-risk population”. As his symptoms became worse, he rushed his son to the Longview Regional Hospital.
“He was admitted right away. and they tested him, it took a day to get the results back but he had COVID.”
Mancha knew it was just a matter of time until he got it himself.
He considers himself a pretty strong guy. So when he started getting sick, he thought it was something he could recover from fairly quickly.
“The no fever really stumped a lot of people. Even after I was sick, never had a fever, not even close,” said Mancha.
It was shocking just how hard the virus hit Mancha.
“They put my right in ICU right away, which was a bad sign, cause I was in the bottom floor, they took me up, they cover you with a blanket from head to toe. So you’re going in a blanket all the way up to this floor and it took 5-10 minutes, Im thinking I might have already passed away.”
3 days later, while on a ventilator, when he thought things couldn’t get worse, his mother passed away on April 11.
“I used to talk to her everyday, go visit her. So that was an added burden,” said Mancha.
At his lowest point, Mancha remembers, “they were trying everything on me, and for three weeks I never improved my wife and kids said it was constant bad news.”
Then a miracle happened on April 25 when Mancha was given his first plasma transfusion. 3 days later, he received a second one.
“I stabilized almost right away, so after 4 weeks of being extremely ill, not too much progress then getting this plasma and seeing the improvement,” said Mancha.
The FDA considers the use of plasma experimental, but appears to be a promising option for many people. It’s now something Mancha can attest to.
“It had to be somebody that had already recovered from COVID; I’m AB positive, which is a rare plasma,” explained Mancha.
On May 12, Mancha received a tracheostomy, which is a medical procedure that involves creating an opening in the neck in order to place a tube into a person’s windpipe.
However, the hardest part stuck around, being away from his family. Even though he couldn’t see them, they were determined to check in on him, holding each other up, just to get a peak.
“Being by yourself at a hospital by yourself is very difficult, I was raised you always stayed, we have a family member in the hospital you always stayed with them. You’re not allowed to have anybody so the anxiety was tremendous,” said Mancha.
Then, on May 20, he was transferred from ICU to Select Specialist Hospital. At this point, Mancha had spent 46 days at Longview Regional Hospital.
Finally, on June 8th, Mancha was removed from the ventilator after 63 days.
July 7, messages of hope sent his way until prayers were finally answered, he had the strength to go home. A big welcome back parade with community members parking around the block to show support for a smiling face known in Longview.
“A lot of prayer from everybody, too many people, I mean, not even from Longview, have a lot of friends,” said Mancha.
Sitting with his dog Astro, and surrounded by the orange and white favorite, he’s reminded of all the nurses from around East Texas came together to help him.
“They were from Kilgore, Marshall, Tyler, Henderson, I had one from Mt. Vernon, Hallsville, Marshall, and everybody was incredible, everybody,” said Mancha smiling, and still shocked.
His voice slowly coming back, after having a tracheostomy’s in for months. He attributes his health and success to those who are working on the front lines of the virus.
“They don’t complain,I didn’t hear a complaint, from over 150-200 people that took care of me and they are doing it with a smile. Im smiling because I’m at home, they are doing it at work with strangers and that’s the amazing part,” said Mancha.
Mancha said he is looking forward to the day he can thank those who helped him in person.