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Son of Buffalo man who died of COVID-19: 'We never got to talk to him again'

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Posted at 9:19 AM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 09:32:50-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The son of a Buffalo man who died of COVID-19 is sharing his family's story to let other families know just how quickly the disease can take over.

John Pianowski's 87-year-old father Don recently passed away from the virus. John lives in Arkansas, and spoke with a reporter at ABC station KHBS/KHOG in Fort Smith. He says he believes his dad picked up the virus at a store last week, and that the symptoms came on quickly.

"It presented like pneumonia. His breathing was very labored. He had a 103 degree fever," John explained. "He was on a ventilator pretty quickly, and over time it just kind of overwhelmed him. He went into a coma. Eventually his kidneys failed. And they told us there was nothing more they could do for him."

Pianowski says his brother in Western New York wasn't able to go into the hospital with his dad, and wasn't able to see him at all before he died.

"Because he was on a ventilator so fast," he explained. "My brother wasn't even allowed inside the waiting room. Nobody is allowed inside the hospital, and nobody was allowed to be with him. So we never got to talk to him or see him again."

Don Pianowski's body can't be released for 14 days, and out-of-town family isn't able to travel right now.

John says it's a difficult time for them, and he's trying to remember the great things about his father.

"He had a tremendous love for life, tremendous love for his wife, love for his kids. Love for a beautiful sunny day, just being able to play baseball."