Stefano Pavanello: Italy in the time of COVID-19

Stefano has received a lung transplant and talks about his experience of being in an at-risk group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a Sunday afternoon on a warm and sunny day in early spring. Italy has been in total quarantine for 2 weeks, but for me it’s almost been one month because I had a lung transplant. I have a supressed immune system which is one of the “high-risk” categories. But what does it mean exactly being in a high-risk category?

I would not wish it on anyone. You feel like a second-class citizen; every time you watch the news on TV, the number of deaths is announced, increasing by hundreds each day. They try to reassure citizens by saying that only the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are at risk.

Well, some might be reassured by this, but not me. And definitely not the elderly or people with lung diseases. At the beginning, most people took the issue lightly, but when the numbers started to increase, fear became part of our lives. The laws of our government became strict to try to contain the number of infections. But it is not easy because today’s deaths are due to infections that were transmitted two weeks ago. As a patient representative, I decided to be strong and to transmit strength, confidence and hope to all our members, friends and their families. From early in the morning when I wake up to midnight when I usually go to bed, it is a continuous interaction with them, using every kind of system that technology can offer. The best moment was a conference call that I managed to organize by involving even people completely reluctant to technology, teaching them one by one how to connect. It was a success, people living all over Italy could meet and talk to each other and to our doctors, sharing opinions and fears but, above all, realizing that together we are stronger.

I know that many other countries are facing this problem and I hope it does not get worse. What I can say is to follow all the guidelines given by the healthcare professionals and political entities, be strong and confident about the future.

Stay connected with your loved ones, rediscover the true values of life such as friendship, love for nature and the little things in life.

#IoRestoACasa #andratuttobene

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