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He was an athlete in the best shape of his life. Then Covid-19 nearly killed him


And when he looked down, he couldn’t recognize himself. Once a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscles and astounding strength, the 40-year-old looked like a completely different person.

“I woke up and looked at my arms, my legs, and my muscles were gone,” he said. “I was kind of freaking out, like where are my legs? Where did my legs go?”

Ayyad is a coronavirus survivor.

Doctors had placed him in an induced coma for 25 days to save his life.

It’s been a little over two months since those touch-and-go days and he’s still recovering. Still out of breath at times. Still nursing the damage to his lung and heart.

But he has a message — for those who refuse to wear a mask during this pandemic, for those dismissive of public health guidance, for those in the prime of their health and feel invincible against coronavirus.

“It worries me a lot seeing people take this lightly,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “I got it and survived, and I’m still terrified.”

How it all began

It started with an overwhelming feeling of weakness.

One week, Ayyad was running his own restaurant and club in Washington, DC while working at his family’s retail furniture business. He was racing marathons and competing in obstacle course races, taking weekly basketball classes, and boxing, one of his favorite sports.

The next week, his entire life had changed. Walking up the stairs left him exhausted. So did cooking, talking, and driving.

Then came the coughing and sneezing. Eventually it was a high fever, total loss of…



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