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3 Years Later, First COVID Patient at Burbank Hospital Recalls Harrowing Tale of Survival

After surviving COVID-19 as St. Joseph’s Medical Center’s first patient with coronavirus, Gregg Garfield says he’s been handed a second chance to live.

In March 2020, Garfield was part of a 13-group ski trip in Italy where everyone got COVID-19. Days after his return, the 57-year-old recalled calling 911 when his symptoms escalated and prevented him from breathing.

He was rushed to St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, becoming their first COVID patient.

“There were a lot of people including doctors that wouldn’t have conversations with me because they had a difference in opinion of what happened. That was tough for me to handle,” Garfield said.

He said that with little information about his health, he did his best to remain calm. That’s when he was notified that he had to be placed into a medically induced coma or he was not going to survive.

“When he called me to tell me he was going to be intubated and going off like a few days, I said, ‘You’re going to be fine,’ and that was all I knew. I felt confused but optimistic,” Garfield’s partner, AJ Johnson, said.

The coma lasted more than a few days. Garfield was comatose for 31 days.

When he woke up, he said the fight to stay alive continue for 33 more days as he worked side by side with doctors and nurses over kidney failure, recurring lung collapses and even losing his fingers and toes when his body became septic.

Garfield recalls having to relearn how to swallow, eat and walk. Taking three steps felt to him like walking a marathon. But thanks to the love and support around him, Garfield survived.

Today, he’s thankful for all the blessings in his life, despite having lost fingers and toes. He even went back to thank the men and women at the hospital who saved his life after he was told he had only a 1% chance to live.

“What’s definitely changed is my outlook on day-to-day life and not sweating the small stuff, truly, and what really is important,” Garfield said.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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