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Benjamin Powell: Getting strong again after COVID-19

July 27, 2020 5:25 am
Benjamin Powell

Fijian Benjamin Powell is now finally home and is fighting to fully recover from COVID-19.

Born and bred in Levuka, Powell moved to the United States with his parents 40 years ago and mostly lives an active and healthy life.

The 50-year-old has spent four of the past six weeks in intensive care in Utah and has required extensive physiotherapy to rehabilitate his body.

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Powell was in great shape, an athletically built Fijian and his work involved marketing and education.

He moved to Salt lake City, Utah in May this year, he began his first week at work when COVID-19 almost killed him.

“And why I am sharing this is because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. It the worst thing you ever want to go through even if it is a mild symptom. Imagine I had to call my family basically to prepare my funeral. Before any of this I had no idea that this was going to happen.”

Powell was on a ventilator for 13 days and lost more than 12kg during his ordeal.

Medical professionals say his physical fitness, positive attitude and support from family and friends are helping him recover.

“I moved to Salt Lake City because my mom’s family a lot of them live here and when I say a lot obviously Pacific Island families are big families. I never had to go to the grocery store, every week, almost every day they drop off food. The drop off everything. I’ve not had to lift a finger so I am really grateful to the culture that we come from and the caring of our family because I moved here because I needed to be with my family and I didn’t realize that I would need them sooner rather than later”.

Previously unable to speak because of the ventilation tube, he communicated by writing notes.

Powell was discharged on July 7th and still has complications of COVID-19, gradually putting on weight and has begun walking and doing light exercise.

“I fought it very hard, to be where I was at in the recovery, I realized at that point- as close as I was to getting out of the hospital. I still had to learn how to walk and be strong and develop my strength.”

Powell’s hope is that no one in Fiji ever has to go through the experience of COVID-19 and urges people to practice social distancing, wear a mask where possible and practice the simple hygiene of washing hands with soap and water.

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