Tony Aldapa, 32, is an intermediate care technician from Los Angeles. Last Monday, he was flying from Orlando to Los Angeles when a fellow passenger began experiencing a medical emergency mid-flight.
Aldapa was one of three passengers who stepped forward to help. They performed CPR on the man until the flight was able to make an emergency landing in New Orleans, where the man was pronounced dead.
Aldapa told Fox News that the day after the flight, he was tired and sore.
"I woke up and I was extremely exhausted and every muscle in my body was sore," he said. "But I attributed that to performing CPR for almost an hour. I drank a lot of fluids, got some sleep and then Wednesday came around and I was still feeling a little bit of fatigue and some more body aches."
The man who performed CPR on the United passenger who died of respiratory failure and COVID-19 last week, told Fox News that he had some coronavirus-like symptoms after the incident. (iStock)
By Thursday, he said those symptoms stayed around and he also developed a bit of a cough and a headache. That’s when he got tested for the coronavirus, but the result came back negative.
Even after that, he said, the symptoms "persisted."
"They were COVID-like symptoms, but they were extremely mild," he said. "It was pretty much a headache and fatigue and body aches and just a little bit of a cough."
Aldapa said he got tested again on Friday and Tuesday morning. The Friday test already came back negative, but he said he’s still waiting on the Tuesday morning result.
Despite the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus, Aldapa said it was more important to try to save the man.
"At the end of the day, the risk to his life, in my opinion, outweighed the potential risk of COVID," he said. "At the time, he needed CPR and that’s what was going to prolong his chances of survival."
Aldapa also said the flight crew made a huge difference.
"I really want to commend the actions of the crew," he said. "The four flight attendants that were there, they grabbed every single piece of medical equipment that they knew they needed immediately and everything was there for us. They had hand sanitizer, they had gloves, they had water for us. The flight attendants were amazing."
"Even the pilot and the first officer, they knew what was going on in the back," he added. "They were in communication with the flight attendants the whole time."
When the passenger died last week, United Airlines initially believed he was having a coronary event. However, on Tuesday, the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office reported that the passenger died of respiratory failure and COVID-19, according to multiple outlets including KABC and USA Today.
In a statement shared with Fox News several days after the passenger died, United Airlines said the man suffered a "medical emergency" during the flight but said it had no confirmation that the man’s death was "COVID-related."
The following day, however, the airline confirmed to CBS in Los Angeles that it shared information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the CDC contacted the carrier.
"Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, we are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection," a representative for the airline confirmed to Fox News.
The airline also claimed to be unaware that the man may have been infected with the novel coronavirus at the time the plane was diverted, but rather that he had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Fox News' Michael Bartiromo contributed to this report.