MURFREESBORO, Tenn (WTVF) — A collapsed lung, a stroke and a second chance at life.
Mark Lively tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2021, just before vaccines became available for his age group. Despite being a healthy eater and regular gym-goer, Lively experienced a rapid decline.
On Monday, Lively went back to the Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford hospital to thank the medical staff who saved his life.
"You made such a difference in my life, and I know I was going through a very challenging time. I understand it was touch and go there for a while," said Lively to the medical staff.
He ultimately spent time on a ventilator and developed a hole in his right lung that required surgical repair. He even experienced a small stroke during the two months he stayed at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford.
Lively lost 54 pounds during his battle with COVID-19 and when he was released from the hospital for in-patient rehabilitation, he was so weak that standing for even 20 seconds was a huge accomplishment.
"Overnight turned into 59 days here at the hospital," he said.
Lively wanted to find a way to thank the medical staff here at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford for saving his life.
"I had one doctor tell me that if I didn't believe in God I need to start because I was a miracle man," he said.
Just days before Thanksgiving, Lively approached the Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation and asked how he could personally thank his health care heroes.
So, he presented these lifesaving heroes with the Foundation's Guardian Angel Award.
"We never came to that day with Mark he had good days, bad days, ups and downs. Days where we were very concerned he wasn't going to survive. It is truly remarkable to see how far he’s come and to know that we for him had more good days than bad," said registered nurse Kelly Bobick.
She was just one of several health care workers Lively said he wanted to thank.
"I think he means more to all of us than he will ever know," Bobick said.
After weeks in rehab, Lively and his wife Cheryl celebrated his return home on June 18. He has returned to work and is enjoying life, though he continues to visit his pulmonologist regularly.