NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After 128 days, a New York City COVID-19 patient finally went home.
It was an emotional day for his family, who back in March were at the hospital saying their goodbyes.
CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis introduces us to “Miracle Larry.”
On his feet again, walking out of a medical facility for the first time since March, Larry Kelly was surrounded with so much love. His wife gave him an emotional embrace, and his daughter wiped away tears. It was an unforgettable moment after months in New York City hospitals fighting for his life.
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“It’s 128 days,” he said.
That’s why they call him “Miracle Larry.”
“I gotta believe that it’s my own willpower and all of their support. I believe that in my bones,” he said.
The 64-year-old retired high school assistant principal was first hospitalized with COVID-19 on March 17. He was on a ventilator for 51 days.
At one point, his family was called to the hospital to say goodbye. But he didn’t give up – and neither did they.
“It gets tough. You kind of have to hold on to as much hope as you can,” said his daughter Jackie Kelly.
“My wife saved my life. She wouldn’t let them pull the plug,” Larry said.
For months, his wife held on to the last words her husband texted her before he was put on a ventilator: “I’ll never stop fighting.”
“I said I promise I’ll never stop fighting, and I kept my promise,” Larry said.
He sure did – opening his eyes on Easter Sunday to so much support, especially, his sister says, from medical staff.
“You can’t see your family for 128 days. They became his family.” said Jen-Marie Kovalevich. “I will forever, forever be indebted to those people.”
Larry said the first thing that gave him hope was knowing a sign reading “Let’s go miracle Larry” was at his favorite bar, Dive Bar, at 96th Street.
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So on his journey Wednesday from the New Jewish Home to his Upper West Side home, he had to stop and see that sign in person.
“That was the first indication I existed. I was so moved that you put that sign up,” Larry said when he arrived at the bar.
“Without regulars, without people like Larry, we don’t exist. So he’s part of our family,” said Dive Bar owner Lee Seinfeld.
An emotional day for all, including his young brother Danny.
“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited about today,” Danny said.
Nobody was more excited than Larry, who was looking forward to his first meal.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever had nursing home food but…” Larry joked.
Sharing laughs, tears and important messages.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, so, please, wear your mask,” he said. “Never stop fighting. No matter how tough life gets, don’t give up.”
Because he didn’t give up, 128 days later, he’s a survivor, going home.
Larry still is on the road to recovery. He says he can’t wait to write about his experience and spend time with his family, and will now get to celebrate his 65th birthday next month.