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Augusta man given ‘second chance’ after COVID-19



AUGUSTA, Ga. — When Kiko Castro was intubated at Augusta University Health, he battled “bad dreams.” He was unconscious for weeks while he was on a ventilator due to COVID-19. As he fought through nightmares, he says he looked over his shoulder and “could see peace” behind him. “That when I knew that God was right behind me telling me, ‘I have your back,’” he says.

“God gave me a second chance.”

Castro’s family never knew if he would get that second chance. When he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in September, his condition worsened in just a few days.

“A normal respiratory rate is somewhere between 12 and 20,” Angela Stroman, Castro’s daughter and an AU Health nurse, explains. “His was about 47.”

Castro’s wife and daughter rushed him to the hospital unsure of what would happen.

“I hugged him and said three times, ‘I love you. I love you. I love you,’” Julie Anne Castro, Kiko’s wife, says.

Castro’s family would not see him again for weeks. He was put on a ventilator. Doctors feared he would not survive.

“The doctor told me, ‘We almost lost you twice,’” Kiko says.

“Every breath he took, it looked like he was fighting for his breath every time,” Julie Anne says.

On December 16, his birthday, Castro was taken off the ventilator.

“They [medical team] told her my wife I was a fighter,” Kiko says. “They called me a warrior.”

Castro finally got to go home after spending 108 days in the hospital. It is taking time for him to rebuild strength. He is taking it one step at a time.

“Now, we have joy that we didn’t have before,” Julie Anne says.

The Castro’s say they are lucky. Not only did Kiko beat COVID-19, their entire family has been vaccinated.

“Our family has been very fortunate,” Stroman says. “If there’s anyway to prevent this from happening to someone else, we would hope that they do it too.”