ROSLYN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It will be quite a special Father’s Day this Sunday for a New Hyde Park dad who just recently met his infant son, who was born back in March.
That’s because the father was among the sickest patients battling COVID-19, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.
Fatherhood for Tony Thomas was a hard-fought battle against the disease, and the odds.
“I’m alive!” Thomas declared.
It’s a battle he won, with help of health care workers at St. Francis Hospital. The 39-year-old nurse, along with his family, returned Wednesday to thank them.
It’s a family that now includes 2-month-old Jonathan, who was born when Tony was too sick to meet him.
“I’d never been sick in my life. This COVID really took a toll on me. My condition was really bad,” Thomas said.
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The New Hyde Park dad got sick in March at the same time his wife, who also had COVID-19, was giving birth. Neither of them could see the baby boy, who went home with an aunt.
But for Tony, the wait to hold his son was far longer. Otherwise healthy, he came down with one of the worst cases of COVID-19 complications doctors at St. Francis said they’ve ever seen in a patient so young.
“Tony was the prime example of just how random and cruel this virus is. There is really no rhyme or reason as to who has mild case and who has a severe case. It was brutal. He was so sick for so long,” said St. Francis ICU associate director Dr. Jeffrey Wolf.
Thomas spent 39 days in the hospital, including four weeks on a ventilator. Everyone was pulling for him to meet his newborn son.
“The minute he was able to speak, that’s what he mentioned. ‘I want to see my baby,'” one health care worker said.
“I literally cried every day, just to see that picture. My nurses come and say you get to see him. Just stay strong,” Thomas said.
This father’s will found a way. He turned the corner and after weeks more in rehab he got to finally hold his little boy.
“I’m so thankful I was able to hold him,” Thomas said. “I was able to see him after 54 days. That is my greatest joy. I’m so glad I was able to fight through this. Father’s Day, this is my true bundle of joy, just being with them, spending time with them and being thankful every day.”
“I’m so happy. I’m the luckiest woman in the world now,” added Tony’s wife, Riya.
It was celebration not only for this father, who nearly didn’t make it, but also for his second family — the doctors and nurses who made sure he did.