NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Bronx man who nearly died of COVID-19 while on a ventilator is now home and healthy with a story to tell.

At one point, his doctors weren’t sure if he would make it, but his remarkable progress is giving hope to both medical professionals and patients.

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Eric Quiles, 34, was tearing up as he was discharged from Jacobi Medical Center on Thursday.

“I was crying. I was crying. You know, I guess that I’m indebted to them,” he told CBS2’s Christina Fan.

He had been hooked up to a ventilator for five days, worrying he might not see his family again.

“I went from ‘see you later’ to possibly never seeing them ever. It was very traumatic,” Quiles said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The Bronx father of four, who does not have any underlying conditions, started experiencing difficulty breathing on March 29, and within hours, his condition deteriorated to the point he was taken to the hospital.

Three days later, he was on a ventilator in the ICU with Dr. Srinivas Reddy expecting the worst.

“We were very concerned. We were not sure when he first came to us whether we would be able to get him through. At that time, most of the patients that we were getting that were sick that were not surviving,” Reddy said.

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Reddy says most patients who end up on ventilators never recover.

Out of the dozens who have been intubated at Jacobi Medical Center, the hospital says Eric Quiles is the first and only one well enough to go home. His recovery is a huge victory for the entire hospital staff, hopeful they can now save more lives.

“There is a different ventilator strategy that we started using, which we found to be very helpful, and then certain medications also that we’ve added to our repertoire of taking care of patients,” Reddy said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

Quiles says he’s grateful to the the medical staff and local and national political leaders for putting aside their differences to allow him access to experimental drugs.

The Army veteran says as soon as his quarantine period is over, he will be doing his part too by donating plasma.

“If you survive, it’s your duty to pass on life to another person,” Quiles said.

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And to help create more success stories for doctors and nurses.