Richard Lee

Richard and Regina Lee pose for this undated photo. Richard Lee was recently hospitalized after he contracted Covid-19.

Local businessman Richard Lee, 56, survived Covid-19 after six days in an isolation room at Paris Regional Medical Center.

He was one of the 20 people to receive an antibody test Thursday during a practice run for the city’s coronavirus testing scheduled this week. 

“I really believe that Dr. Lav Singh saved my life,” Lee said about the health care center’s infectious disease specialist. “He gave me hydroxychloroquine with a couple of antibiotics, and within a couple days I felt much better.”

After an earlier trip to Plano, Lee said he became ill March 22 with what he thought was the flu. Four days later his wife, Regina, came down with what the couple thought was the same thing. She immediately took Tamiflu and within seven days she was back to normal, he said.

“My symptoms, however, did not go away,” Lee said. “I didn’t leave our bedroom or bed except for bathroom visits until April 2 when I could barely walk. Regina took me to get a Covid-19 test at a clinic a friend of ours has. They immediately checked my (oxygen) saturation level at 76 to 80, and sent me directly to the hospital.

“If I had not gone to the hospital when I did, I probably would have been dead by morning; I was so sick,” Lee said, adding he was in the hospital six days. “I checked in on Thursday and they got me hooked up to oxygen pretty much instantly. Friday morning, Dr. Siingh saw me and got me started on hydroxychloroquine and other antibiotics. By Sunday morning, I was starting to feel a little better, and by Wednesday I was released with oxygen.”

Not able to see her husband the entire time he was hospitalized was horrifying, Regina Lee said.

“I would call to talk to him but because he had that oxygen mask on his face, I could not really hear him,” she said

Still on oxygen, Lee said he is weak but is getting stronger every day. Thursday’s antibody test showed he had long-acting antibodies, however, his wife tested negative for having the virus.

Dr. Singh weighed in on hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus immunity.

“There are double blind control studies being performed in multiple hospitals in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and elsewhere,” Singh said. “We will know the effectiveness of this drug after the studies are published.”

Singh said the research on antibody protection and immunity to the coronavirus is still out.

“We do not yet know about antibody protection such as how much (antibody concentration) we need, or how long we will be protected,” the physician said.

 “We all still need to be very cautious even if you are IgG (antibody) positive. Continue to take proper measures including hand washing and social distancing until further data becomes available.”

Richard Lee said his experience left him with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and thankfulness to God.

“I felt His presence and comfort, and so many people, including my church family at Leesville Baptist in Bagwell, were praying for me and my family,” he said.

Lee and his wife are owners of High Cotton Kitchen, 1260 Clarksville St., scheduled to open in the near future, depending on family finances and the coronavirus pandemic, Lee said.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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