ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando man who now knows what it's like to lose a loved one to the coronavirus is urging our community to heed warnings from leaders and health officials to stay home in order to prevent further spread.
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Some of Tony Tsonis' favorite memories growing up were playing sports with his dad, Art. He said Art lived his life to the fullest.
"They like to say my dad had 9 lives," Tsonis explained. "He was a bit of a daredevil. He used to ride dirt bikes and motorcycles, he played football well into his 40's."
Art Tsonis certainly used those nine lives. He survived a double organ transplant and flesh-eating bacteria.
But when he started having pneumonia-like symptoms, Tony was concerned about the coronavirus.
"His COVID test came back and within a few days after that he was in the ICU, he was intubated and on a ventilator, and sedated," Tsonis said.
A few days later, on March 29, Art's Annapolis, Maryland ICU nurse Cheryl called.
"She was great," Tsonis explained. "She spent a lot of her shift holding my dad's hand, comforting him. She used his cellphone to let us all call him before he passed away so we could all speak to him."
He called that moment, saying goodbye over the phone, surreal.
"I tried to relate something back to how I would be as a father, so just tried to use examples of memories I had with him from when I was a child," Tsonis said.
On top of that, Tsonis and his wife are also furloughed because of the coronavirus.
"It's been a very challenging situation for both of us to navigate the system," he said. "Just to get a claim set up has been incredibly difficult."
Based on his experience, Tsonis urges everyone to take precautions to prevent further lives lost.
"For anyone else out there who is high-risk or has underlying medical conditions, it's just really important to follow the state and local orders and stay home," he said.
He adds that if there has been a silver lining in this tragedy, it's that it has brought him closer to his family.