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A New Mexico man has returned home to his family after spending more than 550 days in the hospital for COVID-19.
Donnell Hunter, a resident of Roswell, was greeted by fanfare as he traveled home from Kindred Hospital Albuquerque, according to KOB 4, an NBC News affiliate. He received a police escort, and people lined the road into Roswell with signs of encouragement.
"I can't even put it into words," Hunter told KOB 4 when he returned home, feeling speechless because of the support.
Hunter was diagnosed with COVID-19 in September 2020, according to a previous KOB 4 report, when he became sick at work and didn't have the energy or breath to get out of his car. He was hospitalized, which led to a journey through nine hospitals and numerous times when he and his family thought he'd never make it home.
During the first year in the hospital, Hunter was heavily sedated and on a ventilator.
"I lost usage of my hands, of my arms, of everything — my legs — so I had to wait for all that to come back," he said Saturday. "Do a lot of rehab, speech therapy, learn how to eat, learn how to swallow. I had to learn everything all over again."
Hunter's wife, Ashley, told KOB 4 that he's still recovering but has come a long way. Before he came home, she prepared their house to feel as comfortable as possible.
"I wanted him to come home and feel like home," she said. "I didn't want to feel like we were in the hospital, so I tried to make things look as least hospital-looking as possible."
Hunter said he often dreamed about coming home when he was in the hospital, but then he'd wake up. This time, it was real.
"I was like, 'Thank God!' when I woke up," he said. "I wasn't dreaming."
Hunter also met his grandson for the first time and reunited with his seven kids, who hadn't been able to see him since he was hospitalized.
"Just to hold my kids again, just to look at them, look at them in the eye and just watch them enjoy each other while I enjoy them," he said.
KOB 4: "Roswell man who spent more than 500 days in hospital for COVID returns home," "Roswell man spends more than 500 days hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19."
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Cite this: Carolyn Crist. COVID Patient Hospitalized for 550 Days Finally Returns Home - Medscape - Mar 07, 2022.