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'This is live or die.' Owner of beloved Fla. restaurant is fighting for his life

Carlos Frías, Miami Herald on

Published in Health & Fitness

His progress in the last two months, they say, gives them hope that the smiling figure behind a South Florida institution will soon return home.

“He’s such an amazing, strong man to be able to endure all of this,” Marlén said.

The problem, Pernetti now admits to them, started with pride.

Pernetti’s family doctor told him the morning of Dec. 31 that he had tested positive for COVID-19. But Pernetti wasn’t showing serious symptoms. The doctor suggested he take a round of antibiotics and wait out the contagious period at his Grove Isle condo.

Pernetti treated the news discreetly, the way he’d treat a mishap in his dining room, where three U.S. presidents and everyone from LeBron James to Sylvester Stallone dine knowing they won’t be accosted by autograph seekers.

But he got worse. He called an ambulance when he had trouble breathing and the oxygen meter the doctor ordered showed his levels dropping dangerously low. His first call was to Tatiana, his medical proxy. His other child, his younger daughter, Katerina, is still in high school, and all of Pernetti’s extended family lives in Italy.

 

Tatiana Pernetti found herself making decisions for her father on her own. She was 22.

“It was scary,” she says, her voice cracking a year later at the memory.

Things only got worse. Pernetti was transferred to Jackson Memorial, where after initially improving, nurses found him unresponsive after a round of cortisone to help stimulate his lungs. Doctors called Tatiana for approval to intubate her father.

“I didn’t know anything about intubation, anything about COVID,” she said, stopping to compose herself.

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