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36-year-old COVID patient wakes up from coma with a message for others

Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 7:08 PM EST
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(WRAL) - A North Carolina man who was in the hospital with COVID-19 for nearly three months is making a miraculous recovery.

Steve Rose, 36, was among the sickest COVID patients at UNC Hospital. He had no preexisting conditions and was otherwise healthy – but he was unvaccinated.

What started out feeling like just a cold ended up putting him in a coma and on life support.

When he couldn’t breathe, Rose went to a local hospital that said they couldn’t help him. He was sent via helicopter to UNC Hospital.

He went into a medically induced coma before Thanksgiving, and he just awoke a couple weeks ago.

“The last conversation I remember was talking about Thanksgiving dinner, I was looking forward to it,” Rose said.

Doctors put Rose on an ECMO machine twice, a machine that supplies oxygen directly to a patient’s blood because the virus has so badly damaged the lungs that a ventilator simply isn’t enough. An ECMO machine is only available at the nation’s largest medical centers.

Rose also underwent dialysis twice because he had too much acid in his body fluids.

Now he faces likely months of rehab – he still can’t walk and is just now getting strong enough to sit up.

Rose didn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, a decision he now regrets. He said he went so far into the pandemic without getting sick that he figured he could shrug off getting the vaccine.

“I mean, I just want to put it out there that this stuff [COVID] is real and it can kill you,” Rose said.

Rose said the doctors and nurses at UNC did a valiant job in saving his life – a life that he will treasure like never before with his wife Crystal and two Australian shepherds.

“It’s changed a lot of perspectives… absolutely thankful to be alive,” Rose said.

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