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Local mixed martial artist's latest battle out of ring: against COVID-19

Last Updated May 7, 2020 at 6:53 pm PDT


A Vancouver MMA fighter is sharing his story after battling COVID-19, a virus that forced him into an induced coma

Vince Li, 26, says he went to Burnaby General Hospital on March 23 after having a high fever for several days

Li is now continuing his recovery, and has since been released from the hospital

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – He was placed in an induced coma and had to breathe through a ventilator.

Now, 26-year-old Vince Li is sharing his story while recovering from his life-threatening battle with COVID-19.

“I wasn’t expecting to get it considering that COVID isn’t suppose to hit hard for people my age,” Li told CityNews Vancouver.

As a competitive mixed martial artist, the Vancouver man is trained to fight — but he never could have prepared for what became his biggest fight to date.

“My mom was crying, for good reason, as the doctor said in the first week, ‘We have to put the ventilators in, he’s very unstable.’ They were expecting me not to make it,” Li recalled.

It’s the first week he’s been home, after a month-long battle with COVID-19, much of which was fought while in an induced coma.

“My lungs weren’t working, due to [being] water-filled and COVID attacking my lungs so they had to shove ventilators in my throat.”

Li said he went to Burnaby General Hospital on March 23 after having a high fever for several days. He said he had no other symptoms to make him think it was COVID-19.

“I didn’t have a sore throat, a sneeze, COVID toes, like I saw,” Li said. “I woke up two weeks later not realizing I was put on ventilators.”

He was eventually taken to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster for urgent care.

While Li lives with controlled Type-2 diabetes, he told CityNews has no other health conditions that would make him more vulnerable to the virus.

“The doctors who were checking up on me were super confused that, how did I get it? And why I did I get hit so hard by it?”

Adding to the mystery, his girlfriend, his mother, and his brother — people whom he came in close contact with in the weeks and days prior to his ER trip — never showed symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Regardless, they all self-quarantined at home for two weeks as a precaution.

Now, Li’s focus is on trying to figure out what life looks like post-COVID.

“[Before] I did a half marathon, now I can barely go up the stairs without sweating. So, right now, the routine is a strict diet (since I lost 20 pounds during my month visit) so I have a lot of muscle atrophy.”

While he said he’s still trying to process what happened, Li has come out of his battle with a new perspective, including a desire to hang up the gloves for a while to travel and explore other opportunities.

“Thank you to staff at Burnaby Hospital and RCH, for saving my life,” he said.

You can catch Li’s full story on CityNews Vancouver at Six.