TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Domingo Montalbo was released Wednesday from the Baylor Scott & White Continuing Care facility in Temple after spending 40 days in the hospital with complications from the new coronavirus.
Domingo Montalbo was released Wednesday from the Baylor Scott & White Continuing Care facility in Temple after spending 40 days in the hospital with complications from the new coronavirus. (Photo by Megan Vanselow)
Dozens of family members, friends, and residents gathered outside the facility to surprise Montalbo when he left, but Montalbo surprised them all when he came out of the doors walking on his own.
His wife, Lori Montalbo, said she was most looking forward to getting to hug and kiss him when he came out, which is exactly what she did.
Lori says when she dropped him off at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center at the beginning of April, she didn't know when she'd see him again.
"You just have to drop them off and all we saw was him in a wheelchair in his purple shirt leave the tent and go someplace else, I started yelling 'where are you taking my husband,'" she said.
Montalbo was almost immediately put on a ventilator, and stayed on it for 38 of the 40 days he was hospitalized.
"On day five they said Domingo would not survive. They called us and said we don't think your husband is going to make it to day six," Lori said.
She says hospital staff members arranged to buy him a phone charger so she could call him and he could hear her voice because COVID-19 restrictions kept all visitors out of the hospital.
"I just kept telling him ‘Domingo we love you, your family is still here and we are here praying. So is your church, so is your community, we are here, fight for us. Just keep fighting for us,’" she recalled Wednesday.
Montalbo continued to fight, and was later transferred to the continuing care facility, where Lori and the couple’s four children waited in the parking lot for his arrival.
"We came with a sign that said 'we love you Domingo' and the ambulance came up and we just saw these yellow socks come out and we yelled 'that’s him that’s him,' but all he could do was wave with a few fingers."
Montalbo was put in a room on the first floor, so the family was able to visit from outside his window.
"We've come now every day to the window and seen him from in a bed to where he barely knew what was going on to now fully dressed shaved he got a haircut," Lori said.
She says her family has seen every version of the coronavirus as it made its way through her family.
Her husband had the worst case, but her oldest son developed pneumonia after his diagnosis and she says she and her daughter had mild symptoms while her youngest son was an asymptomatic carrier.
Montalbo is on city council in Little River-Academy, his wife works at the school there and they are members of Temple First Church of the Nazarene.
The city, the school district and the church were all represented Wednesday as he left the facility, and his family says it was the thoughts and prayers of those friends that got Montalbo through the ordeal.