Tierresanta COVID-19 Survivor Participated in Remdesivir Trial

Tierrasanta grandfather Rich Pickett believes Remdesivir helped save his life

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The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant emergency approval of the drug Remdesivir as a front line treatment for COVID-19. It’s an anti-viral medication that’s been proven effective in clinical trials on 1,100 people worldwide.

One of the COVID-19 survivors involved in those clinical trials is Rich Pickett, a 66-year-old flight school owner from Tierrasanta.

As he was experiencing a fever of up to 103 and a hard time breathing, Pickett’s wife drove him to the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center on April 1.  

After being admitted to the hospital, Pickett says things started getting worse. He showed us two x-rays of his chest and lungs; one from the day he checked in the the other taken a day later. His chest cavity started looking cloudy, showing the rapid progression of the disease.

“I couldn't breathe, it was massively taking over my body," said Pickett.

Pickett used his cell phone to make sure his financial affairs for his family were arranged. He even texted a friend and asked them to take care of his family before turning his phone off.

“I wrote a friend of mine said, please help my family because I don't think I’m going to make it… I signed the approval for ventilation but made sure it was, like I said, do not resuscitate because I thought well, this is it," he said.

Pickett’s health took a turn for the better after signing up for Gilead's 10-day Remdesivir test trials.

The experimental coronavirus drug, originally designed to treat Ebola patients, could get emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Though he believes more testing needs to be done, Pickett, who also has a background in pharmacology, believes the drug has promise.

“My lung x-rays on the second one in particular which looked like somebody had stuffed them with cotton candy, I think it had a dramatic impact.”

A video Pickett shared showed his grand daughter saying, “I love you papa bear.” He also shared encouraging texts his family sent him urging him to stay strong.

He also penned a letter -- it took him over nine hours -- praising the staff at Kaiser.

"They were just so caring and they would just constantly make sure that I was comfortable," said Pickett.

The former detective left the hospital on April 17, a whole 25 pounds lighter, but healthy.

When asked what he wants people to know about the deadly virus, he responded:

"People have really got to understand that while they think this is their individual right to do whatever they want, and I’m in full support of that, they also have to take social responsibility."

Pickett says he believes he likely contracted the virus on a commercial flight back to the east coast in March and was asymptomatic for days after.

He’s hoping to take flight again soon and continue his charitable ways with Angel Flight West.

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