By Bria Brown

Lapeer, MI (WNEM) – “Originally, I was just a bit tired, just out of breath. Wasn’t really feeling very good,” said Eric Florka, COVID-19 survivor.

Florka, of Lapeer, contracted coronavirus in April. He went from being healthy and full of life to fighting for his life.

“I just remember one day waking up in the ICU with a piece of equipment over my face. Felt like I was getting punched in the face with oxygen,” Florka said.

Florka’s condition worsened while in intensive care.

“I couldn’t breathe. I was gasping for air. Every time I’d take a deep breath in, wondering if the last breath that I took was going to be the last breath that I had,” he said.

When doctors first told him he had COVID-19, he didn’t think it would get as bad as it did. But he soon found himself preparing to say goodbye to his loved ones.

“I reached out to my family and got my affairs in order. Made my peace with God and realized I was going to be visiting him soon,” Florka said.

But good fortune stepped in.

Doctors told Florka his blood type was a match to plasma that was intended for a patient who no longer needed it because that patient recovered.

“That plasma treatment got me out of the ICU and I was eventually transferred into another unit called PCU, where I could work on the rest of my recovery,” Florka said.

He was also approved by the FDA for a medication called remdesivir and was later cleared to return home a month after contracting the virus.

In June, he received his first negative COVID-19 test and remains negative today. But after nearly dying from the virus, he’s now raising awareness for others to mask up and slow the spread as COVID-19 cases surge across Michigan.

“I want people to understand that masking up helps and I’m pushing a mask-up initiative. I want people to mask up,” Florka said.

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