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Nurse's before-and-after COVID-19 photos show effects of weeks on ventilator

Mike Schultz, who normally is in the gym nearly every day, says he lost 50 pounds and suffered reduced lung capacity.

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco nurse who spent nearly every day in the gym is showing his before-and-after photos to display how catching COVID-19 dramatically affected his body. Mike Schultz says he wants it to serve as a warning as to how serious the coronavirus can be.

NBC Bay Area reports Schultz, 43, was 190 pounds and very fit. He also told BuzzFeed News he had no underlying health conditions. But he lost 50 pounds after spending six weeks in the hospital. Nearly all of that time was on a ventilator.

“When I first saw myself I was like ‘wow,’ I felt like ... I looked like a skeleton,” Schultz said.

Credit: TEGNA
A screen shot of from the Instagram account of Mike Schultz. The San Francisco nurse said this is his before-and-after photos from his bout with COVID-19.

Schultz told BuzzFeed he spent six to seven days a week in the gym before the virus hit him. The photos -- selfies taken from identical angles -- show significant loss of muscle mass. One was taken about a month before he got sick, The other was taken while he was in the recovery ward.

"I was so weak. This was one of the most frustrating parts," Schultz told BuzzFeed. "I couldn’t hold my cellphone. It was so heavy. I couldn’t type because my hands shook so much."

Schultz also posted on Instagram that he had reduced lung capacity due to the pneumonia that came with COVID-19.

Schultz says he thinks he contracted the virus when he flew to Miami Beach in early March for Winter Party, a six-day music and dance festival. Schultz said he thought there was a chance he could catch the virus, but thought it would be no worse than a bad cold.

The festival began March 4. Cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. were still very low then -- less than 100 according to the CDC -- compared to the 1.6 million there are today.

The Miami Herald reports 38 people who attended the festival got sick, some of whom tested positive for COVID-19. Two people died.

“I’m just hoping that my before and after picture just shows you that this is serious and can happen to you,” he said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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