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'I'd Call It a Miracle': South Florida Man Believes Anti-Malaria Drug Saved His Life

03-26-2020
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Rio Giardinieri. (Image credit: CBN News)

President Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine a "game-changer" in the battle against COVID-19. While there aren't sufficient clinical studies to prove its effectiveness yet, one Florida man says the anti-malaria drug saved his life. 

"OK! I'm here with my rider Di. We are coming home!" said Rio Giardinieri as he was leaving the hospital with his wife. 

With his wife beside him, Giardinieri drove home late Tuesday night from a hospital in South Florida, calling his survival of COVID-19 nothing short of a miracle.

"You go from what you feel is death's bed to feeling great in 10 hours. To me, call it what you will, but to me, I'd call it a miracle," he said. 

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The Florida-based businessman thinks he got infected with the coronavirus about two weeks ago while attending a conference in New York. Last Friday evening, after 9 days of running a high fever, severe cough, and body aches, doctors told the 52-year-old that there was nothing more they could do to help him.")

"I didn't think I'd see Saturday morning, so I made phone calls to family and friends to say my goodbyes," Giardinieri explained. "I very much thought it was my last day on earth."

That evening a close friend of 43 years told him about hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that's had some success in treating COVID-19 patients overseas.

"At that point, I had never even heard of the medicine for hydroxychloroquine, it was totally alien to me," Giardinieri said. 

He consulted with an infectious disease doctor who told him there are sufficient clinical studies to prove hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness in combating the virus.

"My statement to him was simply: 'I don't think I'll be here in the morning, so I'm willing to try anything," Giardinieri said. 

Late Friday evening, doctors at Memorial Regional Hospital in South Florida started him on a course of hydroxychloroquine.

"And then I woke up at 4:45 in the morning looking right at the clock and it dawned on me all of a sudden that I could breathe," he recalled. "I was pretty amazed and I knew I didn't have a fever. I didn't feel it anymore.")

Giardinieri was discharged from the hospital three days later.

"Made it out. Escaped from Alcatraz. Heading home to start my segregation," he said as he left the medical facility. 

CBN News spoke to Giardinieri on Wednesday afternoon as he started his quarantine. 

"I'm not a scientist, I'm not a doctor, I don't have any scientific facts to back it up, I can only tell you that I went to sleep in major pain with a fever for nine days that wouldn't shake and when I woke up at 4:45 in the morning, I was feeling great. I mean to the point that I felt that I could have gone out on the boat," he said. 

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Infectious disease experts are trying an array of therapeutic options for fighting COVID-19.

"And what we are finding is that there's a bunch of different medications, one of which is being the chloroquine that a lot of people have been talking about, that seems to have some effect on this virus and has been used in the past," said Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, told The 700 Club on Wednesday

In New York, the epicenter of America's coronavirus outbreak, hospitals started clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine this week in combination with the commonly used Z-Pack.

"We have secured 70,000 Hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 Zithromax from the federal government," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). "I want to thank the FDA for moving very expeditiously to get us this supply."

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