As the Covid-19 pandemic swept the country in March 2020, the family of Marc Lewitinn, their 74-year-old patriarch, urged him to stay indoors. He has survived lung cancer and a stroke that left him unable to speak, and doctors have warned that older people with his medical history are especially vulnerable to the virus.
He did, more or less. But he soon got bored, and one day he ventured to a crowded Starbucks near his home in Cliffside Park, NJ. By March 25, he felt comatose. A pulse oximeter showed his blood oxygen level at only 85 percent.
His son, Albert, a television producer, took him to the emergency room at Weill Cornell Medicine in Manhattan. The hospital was flooded with patients and doctors in hazmat suits, and it took hours for anyone to see him. He tested positive for Covid that night. Six days later, with his oxygen levels dropping further, the doctors decided to intubate him and put him in a coma.
They told the Lewitinn family that Marc, a retired store owner in Manhattan, would likely die within the next few days. Especially in the early months of the pandemic, the survival rate of intubated Covid patients was about 50%, including those younger and healthier than Mr. Lewitinn.
“They walked out with the iPad to ask us if we wanted to show him morphine and let him pass naturally,” Albert Lewitinn said in an email. an email. “On a group FaceTime, we called on my dad to fight. We don’t say goodbye. We said, “Keep fighting, dad, you’ll be fine.”
Mr. Lewitinn has stabilized and recovered from Covid, but he is still too weak to be able to turn off the ventilator. After six months, he was brought out of his coma and eventually transferred to another hospital, closer to his New Jersey home.
After 850 days on a ventilator, Mr. Lewitinn died of a heart attack on July 23 at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, NJ. He was 76 years old. His son Albert confirmed the death.
While there are no comprehensive statistics on the survival time of Covid patients on ventilators, medical experts think Mr. Lewitinn could hold this record. The literature surrounding the pandemic notes that some patients have lasted more than three months; a patient in Alabama made headlines in 2021 when he ditched his respirator after 187 days.
None of them, the doctors said, achieved the combination of his physical and mental strength and the agility with which the medical facility developed long-term Covid care protocols. .
“He had a long and difficult course,” Dr. Abraham Sanders, one of his doctors at Weill Cornell, wrote in an email. “He was a strong man and a beneficiary of sophisticated medical care.”
Marco Albert Lewitinn was born on March 12, 1946, into a Jewish family in Cairo. His father, Albert Lewitinn, is a medical engineer, and his mother, Sarah (Amiga) Lewitinn, is a homemaker. He grew up speaking Arabic and later learned English, French and Spanish.
Egypt has a thriving Jewish community of 75,000, but it faced worse conditions after the Arab nationalist revolution of 1952 and the Suez Crisis of 1956, the duel of the land. countries with Israel, France and Great Britain. The government took over Mr. Lewitinn’s business and, after being briefly detained, he and his family were deported in 1958.
They settled in Baltimore, where Albert Lewitinn was hired by Johns Hopkins University to work on organ transplant technology.
As a young man, Marc lived in New York City and Los Angeles, where he briefly attended college, then Paris, where he met Ondine Green, the sister of a childhood friend from Cairo. They married in 1968.
The Lewitinns family settled in the New York City area, first in Brooklyn and then in Tenafly, NJ. He opened a business on the Upper West Side that operated as a kind of store selling everything to the neighborhood. : pawn shops, film processing, electronics repair, jewelers. It has become a local fixture; John Lennon, who lives nearby, comes in from time to time, and Mr. Lewitinn hangs a picture of himself with Lennon on the wall at the store.
He sold the business in 1981, then he bought and sold real estate and then started an online art business.
Mr. Lewitinn was an ardent supporter of Israel and Jewish causes. He raised money for Ethiopian Jews who fled their country for asylum, and won praise from Nazi hunters. Simon Wiesenthal and Charles Kremer for helping to convince the US government to expel the Archbishop Valerian Trifaa Romanian cleric and fascist collaborator who moved to the United States after World War II.
In 1995, Mr. Lewitinn sued the Egyptian government for the right to issue a number of Torah scrolls, prayer books and other religious items seized from the country’s Jewish community in the late 1950s. We later dropped the case.
Along with his son, Albert, he is survived by his wife; another son, Lawrence, a real estate investor; His daughter, Sarah, is a record producer and DJ performing under the name Ultragrrrl; his sisters are Fortunee Yeh and Rachel Algazi; his brothers Solomon, Michael and Nessim; and two grandchildren.