Staff member in Cath Lab in scrubsStaff in scrubs in the Cath LabStaff in scrubs in the Cath Lab


John spends 55 days in ICU with COVID-19 and shares his story

Friday 28 April 2023

John Colalancia won’t easily forget 2021. During the first half of the year, he discovered he had cancer. Later in the same year, he was hospitalised with COVID-19 and had to spend 55 days in ICU.

“It was October 2021 and I had caught COVID-19, the Delta strain. My wife noticed I looked a bit hot and she drove me in. A couple of days after, I was put in a coma. It lasted for eight weeks,” he says.

Earlier that year in May, John had just finished his cancer treatment at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre. Just four months after, COVID hit.

He remembers gasping for air, and having a weakened immune system meant coma was a life-saving treatment for him.

John vividly remembers the care received after he woke up.

“My care was second to none. Doctors and nurses came up to me to tell me they had been looking after me all that time. The nurses went above and beyond, and one of them even gave me her phone so I could watch the Boxing Day Test. Little things like that really made all the difference,” he explains.

This is just one of many stories of staff dedication and care for John. After waking up from coma, he had to learn to walk again, and go into rehabilitation.

“The recovery is still ongoing, even though it has been 15 months. I am slowly getting better and doing good,” he adds.

To the staff who looked after him, John would like to thank not only for the care, but for making him feel loved and so much more than just a patient.

“Everyone has their own favourite hospital, and mine is the Austin,” he concludes.

This week (23-29 April 2023) is Patient Experience Week, an annual event to celebrate healthcare staff impacting patient experience everyday.

Did you know we have a Patient Experience Team? If you've had a great experience with us, we’d love to hear from you. For more information, visit our Providing Feedback page.