On Saturday, April 10, COVID-survivor Paulo Santos, a 40-year-old Manalapan, NJ resident, ran 20 miles from CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, NJ to Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ as a fundraiser for the health care heroes and hospitals he credits with saving his life.
Beginning his journey at 7:15 a.m. at CentraState Medical Center, Santos arrived at Jersey Shore University Medical Center at 11:55 a.m. He began training for the run to strengthen his lungs following an intense battle with COVID-19 in March 2020.
“I was on the last train out of Washington, D.C., in March 2020 before they closed it down due to the pandemic,” says Santos. “A few days later, I started experiencing the first symptoms. A few days after that, I was hospitalized following a positive COVID diagnosis and double pneumonia.”
After a week in the hospital at CentraState Medical Center, Santos stopped breathing and was put on a ventilator to help him breathe. Because Jersey Shore University Medical Center had recently been approved to start trials of Remdesivir on COVID positive patients, he was transferred to the Neptune City-based medical center, where his survival was uncertain.
“When he arrived, Paulo was about as sick as you can be,” says Eric Costanzo, D.O., director of critical care at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “He was in severe distress and we really weren’t sure if he was going to make it. For him to be running the 20 miles from Freehold to Neptune is an absolute miracle, and all of us – his entire care team – are truly humbled and thankful for what he is doing for our hospitals.”
On April 7, 2020, a month after he was first admitted to the hospital, two weeks after first being put on a ventilator and on his 39th birthday, Santos was able to breathe on his own. On April 10, 2020, he was discharged home, making the date of his run symbolic.
Despite several setbacks in his recovery, including a heart attack in September 2020, Santos was determined to go the distance. “Not only did running help me to regain lung capacity, it helped me to regain my life,” says Santos. “Finishing this run is a way for me to close the book on this chapter and to really look forward. To be able to do something to help the hospitals that saved my life makes being able to move forward even better.”
As of April 12, 2021, Santos’ Go Fund Me page has received nearly $14,000 in donations, which will be shared between CentraState Medical Center and Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The donation page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/thank-you-to-our-covid19-heroes.
Photo Caption: From left, is Christine and Paulo Santos, son Paulo Jr. and in front is Ava Santos at Jersey Shore University Medical Center on April 10