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Michigan man who was given 1% chance of beating COVID-19 to leave hospital on Friday

Spent 18 days in a coma, 44 days on a ventilator
Michigan COVID-19 survivor
Posted at 9:37 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 09:37:13-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — 46-year-old Brian Kostus took all the preventative measures necessary to ensure he wouldn't contract COVID-19. Kostus was diligent about wearing a mask, wearing gloves and social distancing.

In November, however, he received a positive COVID-19 test result and began noticing symptoms.

On Nov. 15, doctors warned him his condition had quickly deteriorated, telling him they would, "do what they can."

Doctors allowed him to make a couple phone calls before immediately putting him in a coma as he entered the ICU.

"I called my wife and I said, 'Hey, things have changed. I love you. It's been awesome,'" Kostus said, unsure if he would see his family again.

While in the ICU, his oxygen levels dipped into the 60s. Normal levels are above 80. A hospital staffer later told him he had a 1% chance of survival.

After 18 days, Kostus awoke from his medically-induced coma. His wife and daughter were the first people to see him open his eyes over Zoom.

Kostus was unaware of what was going on for the next several days, due to the sedation. Doctors continued treating him while on a ventilator. In total, he required the use of the breathing device for 44 days.

On New Year's Eve, Kostus was transferred to Mary Free Bed Hospital in Grand Rapids. Therapists worked with him, with an overall goal to improve his condition enough to leave the hospital in a wheelchair.

When he was admitted, he could not sit up on his own and could barely move his left arm.

"There were a lot of barriers, but Brian never let it stop them," said Kelli Selby, a physical therapist at Mary Free Bed. "He was always ready in that wheelchair. By the time therapy was starting, he'd be looking at his schedule. He was very proactive about this therapy. He didn't let anything stop him from completing a PT session or an OT session."

Occupational therapist Monica Vaughn worked especially hard with Kostus to regain mobility of his left arm. He now has a full range of motion.

On Friday, Kostus will be discharged from Mary Free Bed, not in a wheelchair like originally planned, but walking on his own two feet.

The return home comes after 100 days since his first COVID-19 symptom in November.

The moment will also mark the first time he will be able to see his children in person.

This story was originally published by Angeline McCall on WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.