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Pinellas County man meets doctors and nurses who saved him during battle with COVID-19

He was hospitalized for more than 2 months
Posted at 9:18 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 00:13:06-04

LARGO, Fla. -- A Pinellas County man who battled COVID-19 for more than two months returns to the hospital to meet the healthcare workers who saved him.

Casey Gray, 28, was admitted to Largo Medical Center on July 5. He tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell and difficulty breathing.

He was suffering from severe respiratory distress.

Gray said he does not remember much from his hospital stay.

"I went under sedation and that's kind of the last thing I remember," said Gray.

Gray was placed on a ventilator. He also needed additional life support and was placed on ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation). Blood is pumped outside of your body to a machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back into your body.

"We started the ECMO with success, but as his disease progressed... his lungs continued to get worse to the point where the lung was basically not doing any of the work at all so, at that point, we decided to put a second machine on him. We had two machines running at the same time," said Dr. Christiano Caldeira, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon with Largo Medical Center.

On Tuesday, doctors showed Gray the machine that helped save his life. He also met the doctors and nurses who cared for him.

"I've been blessed. I know not everyone gets another chance like I do. I just know I have a good God, a good family and good friends who prayed for me," said Gray.

Gray needed convalescent plasma and also rehabilitation for two weeks to regain his strength. He was released from the hospital in mid-September.

"People who didn't even know me were praying for me all around the world. I mean people were praying for me in South America, South Asia, just everywhere. It was really overwhelming," said Gray.

Gray does not know how he contracted the virus but encourages people to wear a mask.

"I was kind of loose with wearing masks before and just hard to say where I got it from," he said.

He said he feels much better, but gets tired easily.

"I feel really good. Some days, I feel really strong," he said.

"I'm so grateful for all the medical staff that cared for me. They gave me my life back. They gave me another chance with my wife, another change with my family," Gray added.