Holocaust survivor beats coronavirus after 81 days on ventilator

An 80-year-old Holocaust survivor who spent 81 days on a ventilator in a Pennsylvania hospital as he battled coronavirus is thrilled to be home in time to celebrate Rosh Hashana with his family.

“I feel happy to [have] another Rosh Hashana in my life,” said Avram Woidislawsky, who was born in the Siberian mountains after his family fled the Nazi invasion in Poland. “It’s great.”

Woidislawsky, pictured ziplining before contracting COVID-19, was born in the Siberian mountains after his parents fled the Nazis. 

Woidislawsky, pictured ziplining before contracting COVID-19, was born in the Siberian mountains after his parents fled the Nazis. 
(Woidislawsky family)

Woidislawsky, whose remaining relatives in Poland were killed during the Holocaust, moved to Israel as a young boy and later served in the Israeli army. He and his wife Rita came to the United States in 1966 and eventually settled in Philadelphia.

Before Woidislawsky contracted COVID-19 he led an active lifestyle, participating in some kind of physical activity – including tennis, horseback riding and even waterskiing – up to six times a week. But the virus threatened to rob him of his joy.

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“He was intubated and was asleep for close to 60 days,” Rita Woidislawsky said. “In an induced coma, paralyzed basically.”

Woidislawsky, pictured pre-COVID-19, eventually moved to Philadelphia with his wife in 1966. 

Woidislawsky, pictured pre-COVID-19, eventually moved to Philadelphia with his wife in 1966. 
(Woidislawsky family)

Woidislawsky, who said his care team at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia has been calling him a hero, added that he was determined to overcome the illness.

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“Whatever it took to survive, I survived,” he said.

Woidislawsky, who has kept a very active lifestyle, was in an induced coma for nearly 60 days.

Woidislawsky, who has kept a very active lifestyle, was in an induced coma for nearly 60 days.
(Woidislawsky family)

Woidislawsky described coronavirus as “horrible,” and said he doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through what he went through.

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Woidislawsky, pictured with his wife Rita after his release from the hospital, described the illness as "horrible," and said his main goal is to regain his strength. 

Woidislawsky, pictured with his wife Rita after his release from the hospital, described the illness as “horrible,” and said his main goal is to regain his strength. 
(Woidislawsky family)

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He credits his pre-COVID-19 strength with helping him to survive the illness and said his main goal is to regain the strength he had just a few months ago. He encouraged others to remain on the go and to not let age slow them down.

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“Anybody getting up in age, don’t ever stop moving, exercising or doing sport.”