MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Many people are expressing thanks for good health after battling COVID-19.

CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff spoke with one survivor on Long Island, who had a lot to be thankful for at his Massapequa home.

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“I feel I’ve been given a second chance in life. I’m grateful to all the medical personnel that worked wth me. I’m so grateful to my family,” James Colon told Gusoff.

His COVID odyssey began before Easter. He’s an active 60-year-old with no pre-existing conditions, yet for him, COVID was unrelenting.

“I passed out. I said I couldn’t breathe any more,” Colon said.

From severe symptoms to a ventilator and a coma for four months, his family was told to start making funeral arrangements.

“They recommended several times that we maybe let him go naturally,” said his niece Veronica Britez-Ward.

Colon’s organs shut down, and he was on full life support.

“If he were to recover, which they labeled would be a miracle, he might not be liberated from the ventilator,” Britez-Ward said.


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But then, a turnaround, and an agonizing fight back to health.

“I went from 160 pounds to 90 pounds, and my body atrophied completely,” Colon said. “I couldn’t move my limbs… I lost my voice, I couldn’t speak, so I couldn’t communicate.”

James Colon, of Massapequa, says he feels he’s been given a second chance in life after recovering from COVID-19. (Credit: Mount Sinai-Morningside)

He would train his muscles to walk and swallow again thanks to his team at Mount Sinai-Morningside.

“It represents hope, that there’s hope that we can have older patients like him,” Dr. Yamilette Burgos told Gusoff. “That even after going into a coma, being in a mechanical ventilator, they can survive.”

After six months in hospital, his lungs are healing and he says he can walk on his own without a cane or walker for short distances.

This year he joins family for Thanksgiving with gratitude.

“It’s gratitude that you really can’t imagine unless you are so close to losing someone,” Britez-Ward said.

“I say to people that have COVID now, fight, don’t give up,” said Colon. “Those people who don’t have it, I say please… Be considerate of others. You can spread it, and you spreading it can mean life or death for someone.”

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Colon believes he contracted the virus in March, while working as receptionist at a nursing home.