‘I didn’t want to die’: Utah man speaks out after spending 223 days in the hospital battling COVID-19

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – In January 2021, 59-year-old Thomas Kearl came into the emergency room at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray with a temperature of 103. On Tuesday, August 24, Kearl finally left the medical center, 223 days later.

Kearl says he had spent time with his family in late December and early January. After learning one of his children had been exposed to COVID-19, he says he and his wife got tested on January 11- Kearl’s birthday. While they tested negative, Kearl says he began feeling ill the next day and was unable to keep his head up.

That’s when Kearl’s hospitalization began. He was resuscitated four times, intubated five times, and given CPR for 17 minutes. He says he experienced multiple bouts of pneumonia, suffered from sepsis, and “died.”

“I didn’t want to die, I have too much to live for. I love my family,” an emotional Kearl said during a Thursday press conference. ” I love my children, I love my three grandchildren. So I kept fighting.”

Doctors say Kearl has spent the last nearly seven months battling COVID-19. His discharge from the hospital offers “a glimmer of hope, resilience, and determination” as health officials report rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide.

“I thought COVID was a flu they just destroyed the world over,” Kearl admits. “Boy, was I wrong.”

He is now receiving 18 hours of therapy in his home. Kearl says he is grateful for the caregivers that helped him battle the virus. Dr. Peter Crossno, who cared for Kearl, calls his case “unusual,” saying there were uncertainties about whether or not he would survive.

“We’ve seen so much misery,” Dr. Crossno explains, describing the challenges Utah healthcare workers are facing amid full ICUs.

You can hear Kearl’s full story in the video player above.

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