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Chula Vista man hospitalized with 'mystery' infection during trip to Philippines

Chula Vista man faces life-threatening 'mystery' infection during trip to Philippines
Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-05 11:30:46-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Loved ones of a South Bay father of three are speaking out, after a "mystery" respiratory infection left him on a ventilator, battling for his life, during a trip to the Philippines.

“Every day I wake up, it's anxiety ridden,” said Emma Gaines-Ramos.

Sisters Emma and A.J. Gaines-Ramos, both San Diego State students, are enduring an emotional waiting game.

“We definitely feel helpless, “ said A.J. Gaines-Ramos.

In early August, their 53-year-old father, Armando Ramos, a software engineer, traveled from Chula Vista to Manilla, Philippines after the death of his mother.

It was a sobering trip, but it was going as planned. Ramos helped arrange a service for his mother.

Days later, he came down with a sore threat and became tired. Five days after the first symptoms, Ramos was rushed to a hospital.

“It was the chest pains and difficulty breathing that led him ultimately to go the the ER,” said Emma.

A screen grab shows a video call with his three daughters a day after being admitted.

Initially diagnosed with pneumonia, Ramos was intubated and placed on a ventilator within days. His condition then quickly deteriorated.

Family members said one lung collapsed, his brain became inflamed, and his kidneys started to fail. There were complications with his heart and liver.

Ramos, who had no underlying conditions, tested negative for COVID and the flu.

“Right now it's a mystery … every day, we still don't know what's happening to him,” said Emma.

While more tests are underway, the family only knows it's a respiratory infection. There are parallels to the pandemic.

“It is traumatizing, in the sense, when the pandemic first occurred, nobody knew what was happening. You’re kind of just treating the symptoms, but not getting to the source of it. That's what it feels like is happening right now,” said Emma.

“It’s a cruel deja vu with the pandemic ... Every day, anticipating his state and not knowing, it's scary,” said A.J.

While Ramos’ situation remains critical, there has been some good news in the past days.

His kidneys are improving, along with his oxygen levels.

“He’s so stubborn, he's going to fight, “ said A.J.

“We're going to fight by his side,” said Emma.

Doctors have removed bacteria-filled fluid from Ramos' lungs and continue with tests, including for meningitis.

A GoFundMe campaignhas been started to help with medical expenses.