WASHINGTON (WJZ) — A Washington D.C. man was in great shape, running marathons, lifting weights and playing basketball until March when he got COVID-19.

He nearly died from the virus and spent weeks at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Now, he’s recovering and working to get his strength back.

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Standing at 6’1″ and 215 pounds, Ahmad Ayyad was in amazing shape at 40-years-old, completing Spartan races and running marathons.


“I take care of my diet, exercise daily,” he said.

But in March, he started coughing a lot and felt weak. He went to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington D.C. and that’s when his body started making a turn for the worst.

“They said I’m not getting enough oxygen and they had to induce me into a coma,” Ayyad said.

He woke up in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Hospital after being in a coma for 25 days. He lost over 60 pounds and didn’t recognize himself.

“When I finally got up and walked to the mirror I was scared when I saw myself,” Ayyad said.

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He spent six weeks in the hospital, could barely walk, lost his appetite and couldn’t speak.

”There was a lot of phone calls to my family that were saying he might not make it,” Brian Garibaldi, Biocontainment Unit Medical Director at Johns Hopkins, said.

Ayyad had to go through extensive speech and physical therapy. His case was very concerning to doctors.

“If it could take out someone like him and put him on a breathing machine for weeks, I think it’s sort of a wakeup call that everybody’s at risk for this virus,” Garibaldi said.

When Ayyad was discharged from the hospital on April 22, he still had a blood clot in his arm and damage to his heart and lungs. But he was determined to get better as quickly as he could.

He’s started running and lifting and opened his coffee shop and club back up in Arlington, Virginia.

Now, he’s back to his routine, but said he still got more work to do and is committed to running races again. He hopes his story will serve as a precaution to others.

“There’s no defined thing about who it affects, so everyone just needs to be safe and not just worry about themselves, but others as well,” Ayyad said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Stetson Miller