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He battled COVID-19 for 108 days. Doctors told him he'll need a double lung transplant

Kenneth Cecil was hospitalized right before Christmas. On Wednesday, he finally got to go home - but his recovery is far from over.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — What a journey it's been for Kenneth Cecil. 

He's been in the hospital, fiercely battling COVID-19, since before Christmas. 108 days later - he's finally able to return to his Davidson County home.

Inside Novant Health's Forsyth Medical Center on Wednesday, hospital staff lined up against the walls and waited to surprise Cecil as he left his hospital room for the last time. Cheers filled the hallway as nurses escorted him out.

"You just sit there and you have a lot of time to think about…Am I getting better? Am I going to get out of here?" he said, "So as time progressed, I started healing even more and getting stronger and started doing some physical therapy.

"The stronger I got, the more hope I had of getting out of here. I never lost hope because I’m strong in the faith and I know who had brought me this far. And then, Dr. Tarter had been behind me one thousand percent. He pushed me, and he had an agenda to get me home, as well as I had one to get home."

During his months-long stay, he lost nearly 90 pounds and spent 18 days on a ventilator, fighting the virus. 

"We see a lot of patients come into the hospital," said Dr. David Tarter, an internal medicine doctor for Novant Health, "His case is uncommon with that a lot of our loved ones who end up on the breathing machine, or life-support, about 70% of them don't make it. So his is a testimony of a miracle."

Although he's back home with his sons, daughter and wife, Cecil still has a long road ahead of him. The damage to parts of his body is so severe, that he'll need a double lung transplant. 

That's on hold, for now. 

"I could get by with one, but really the best way to handle it they say is a double lung transplant. Because I don't have great insurance, nobody will do it," he said, "I just don't have the funds to pay for it."

He's holding tight to his faith, praying for another door to open, to allow him to get back to the person he once was: hard-working and healthy. 

"I was just kind of free-spirited about it in the beginning. I did know [COVID-19] was here but I didn’t take it all that serious," he explained, "This is a disease, or a virus, that you have to take serious. When they say to wear that mask, you better wear that mask...because if it gets in you, it could put you right where I’m at.

"I never imagined COVID, or any virus, would take over my body and destroy it the way that it has."

Challenges aside, he says he's so thankful for the constant help and support of his doctors, nurses, and medical team who took care of him for those 108 days. And now, he says he's never been happier to finally be back home with his family. 


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