HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (WLS) -- Edgar Espinoza is grateful to be alive after nearly dying from COVID-19, and enduring a grueling hospital stay.
"It's been a tough, tough road, but with the help of everybody, the doctors and everything, we made it through," he said.
The 38-year-old was placed on a ventilator the day after Christmas 2021, but his condition steadily worsened.
"They were massively inflamed, both lungs were. Basically we couldn't get any oxygen into his blood," said Dr. Amit Bharara, pulmonologist at Ascension Saint Alexius in Hoffman Estates. "Most people as sick as he was wouldn't make it through that."
So doctors threw a medical Hail Mary and heavily sedated Espinoza, including paralysis, for more than two weeks.
"We had paralyzed him so that the ventilator was doing everything, and it allowed his lungs to get some rest just to give them time to heal," Bharara explained.
The gamble paid off and doctors were able to perform a tracheostomy, but for more than two months Espionza lay unconscious. Then, suddenly in February he opened his eyes, two days before his wife's birthday.
"He was able to move his head, his arms, his legs, and it was like the best day of my life," said wife Meggin Espinoza. "That's all I wanted for my birthday was my husband."
On April 6, after 116 days in the hospital, Espinoza finally went home.
"I want people to know that there's always hope. There's always hope, and for those families out there that are going through the same thing not to give up," he said.
Walking remains difficult, and Espionza still relies on oxygen, but he also continues to improve. The doctors say his recovery is "miraculous."
Suburban man survives COVID after 116-day hospital stay, 2 and a half months unconscious