URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– 32-year-old Mario Cruz-Cortes is grateful to be alive. Just a few days ago he needed the help of a machine just to breathe.
Cortes caught a case of COVID-19 that knocked him off of his feet, seemingly overnight.
Up until a couple of weeks ago he never had health issues. He had never been in a hospital bed in his life.
Now he wants everyone to know, if he could go back in time, he’d do one thing differently: “If you could go back in time would you get the vaccine? Yeah, I would get the vaccine because…what I went through, I don’t want no one to go through it,” Cruz-Cortes shared.
Cruz-Cortes was discharged from OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana Wednesday afternoon after spending nearly two weeks in a hospital bed, about half of that time was spent on a ventilator.
“I asked my nurse…I was like, ‘i’m dead?'” he said. “…And she [said], ‘No, you’re alive. You just went through a lot, but you’re alive.’ I was like, ‘Thank God.'”
The 32-year-old was brought here to OSF from Taylorville on July 30. Cruz-Cortes said he had no idea how serious the coronavirus was until he was in the thick of it, and it happened really fast.
“One day you’re moving. The next day you cannot move anymore,” he explained.
On a Monday his energy level felt low. By Wednesday he couldn’t eat and Cruz-Cortes said the pain began to spread throughout his body.
“Overnight it changed,” he added. “Thursday morning I woke up and I told my wife, ‘I’m going to the emergency room. I think I’m really sick, I think I’ve got COVID.'”
Now that he’s feeling more like himself again, Cruz-Cortes has two missions: One, to hug and play with his two young kids, and two, to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
“It changed my life,” he shared.
“I know people that say this is scary and people don’t believe in medicine. But you need to believe more in medicine and science because this is real.”
Cruz-Cortes told us at least one of his friends, that was originally hesitant to get vaccinated, has gotten the shot since he’s been hospitalized. He said he hopes what he went through will encourage as many people as possible to do it for their safety, and for everyone around them.