RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey dad who tested positive for COVID-19 is celebrating an important milestone, and it was a long road getting there.
Even through his hospital mask, you could tell the claps and cheers from health care heroes brought Stephen Martino to tears as he was wheeled out of the hospital.
“Eighteen days in a 10-by-10 room will be put a lot of perspective on your life,” Martino said.
His wife, Carmela, waited down the hallway before their long awaited hug.
“I want him to feel like he’s on a runway and, you know, celebrity status,” Carmela Martino said.
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The father to teenagers Isabella and Anthony went to the ER on April 4 when he could no longer breathe.
For the next two and a half weeks, the only daily human contact he could count on was with his nurses.
“You could see the fear in their faces of coming into these rooms because they have family, too,” Martino said.
In order to get through the days, Martino would listen to the sound of the construction going on outside the hospital. But at night when the construction would stop and it was dark and silent, he couldn’t help but worry that if he fell asleep he might not wake up.
“You don’t… You… All you can do is think,” Martino said.
He would FaceTime with his family, but the separation was torture.
“Alright god, this is in your hands now. Let’s figure it out. Do the miracles that you do,” Carmela said.
After beating the virus, the first thing Martino did at home was lie down on the concrete next to his pool — even though it’s the middle of April.
“So I knew I was home,” Martino said.
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“There are other people in that hospital bed right now … What can you say to them?” CBS2’s Jessica Layton said.
“You have to be able to fight to come home,” Martino said.
He’s still on oxygen and short of breath, but full of goals.
“Make sure that my children and my wife had the best life that I could possibly give them,” Martino said.
And grateful for those who helped save him.