Sydney resident David Avila Mellado was clapped out of Westmead Hospital on September 1st after being admitted for 399 days.

He spent over a year in hospital after contracting COVID last year and has finally been discharged in a heart-warming moment with health staff.

“Thank you very much everybody working here [who] heal me a lot,” He said as he walked out.

“I feel like [this is] my family in the hospital because it’s a very long wait and stay here.”

The 69-year-old was first admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID in July 2020. He spent several weeks in intensive care before being transferred to the respiratory observation unit in September.

Mellado then started his long recovery journey, which included physiotherapy and speech pathology.

After more than a year of being unable to breathe independently or talk, the 69-year-old had his tracheostomy tube removed last month.

“I was in a coma for a few weeks. I came back here, didn’t know my name, didn’t know nothing,” he said.

“But now I can say my name, I can say thank you.”

After slowly regaining strength, Mellado was discharged in bittersweet moment.

“I have in my heart everybody I remember,” he said of the hospital staff.

“When I do exercise [in] the corridor, I know everyone, they say to me “hello David”. I feel happy because I don’t remember many people, but they know me.”

David continues with rehabilitation and had one final message to send on his way out of the hospital: “Tell the people: don’t want. Try to get the vaccine as soon as possible!.”

“Many people, they don’t want the vaccine, they don’t trust about [COVID-19]. But it’s real. So they have to understand, they have to get the vaccine, they have to help the other people too,” he said.

Respiratory observation nurse unit manager Trudy Darling said hospital staff are proud of Mellado, but miss him.

“All the staff felt he was very much part of our family and we loved caring for him” she said.

“We miss him and its sad to see him go, but he needs to get back to his family.”

“We’re very pleased to get him going in the right direction. We all wish David and his family all the best.”

Image: Western Sydney Health 

This article first appeared on Over60.