"He saved my life. So I'm going to save his," Dr. Rick Pitera said of his friend Danny Radice, who tested positive for COVID-19

By Ashley Boucher
May 12, 2020 08:39 PM
Dr. Rick Pitera, Danny Radice
Dr. Rick Pitera, Danny Radice
| Credit: Dr. Rick Pitera

A New Jersey doctor helped save the life of an exercise specialist who was instrumental in his recovery from a heart attack five years ago.

Danny Radice, 53, was hospitalized at the St. Barnabas Medical Center with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), where Dr. Rick Pitera, also 53, works as an anesthesiologist.

Radice and Pitera have a relationship that goes far beyond doctor and patient, however. They formed a lasting friendship after meeting in the cardiac rehab unit at St. Barnabas in 2015 after Pitera suffered a "massive" heart attack.

"He helped me get my life back," Pitera told NJ.com of Radice. "He allowed me to focus on what I needed to do to get better. Instead of focusing on, 'This happened and this is terrible,' he helped show me the way back."

"It’s not hyperbole to say I owe Dan my life," Pitera added of his dear friend.

Danny Radice
Credit: Danny Radice

Pitera saw Radice's hospitalization as an opportunity to repay that favor. "He saved my life," he told NJ.com. "So I'm going to save his. I'm saving his."

Radice, who has no history of preexisting conditions, first tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20, according to NJ.com, and was taken to the hospital after fainting at home six days later. He was quickly placed on a ventilator.

After six days of being intubated, Radice's health finally began to improve.

When Radice woke up on April 2, Pitera was in his room, and his friend's presence gave him reassurance that he was going to make it.

Dr. Rick Pitera
Dr. Rick Pitera
| Credit: Dr. Rick Pitera

"I will never for the rest of my life forget that moment," he told NJ.com. "Because right then, I knew I was going to be okay."

His recovery hailed as a "miracle," Radice was able to leave the hospital on April 17.

New Jersey has been one of the most hardest hit states during the pandemic, with at least 140,743 confirmed cases and 9,508 related deaths as of Tuesday. Nationwide, there have been more than 1.3 million confirmed cases and at least 82,161 related deaths.

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