NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Following an eight-month battle with COVID-19, GOP Rep. David Byrd is urging the public to “consider getting vaccinated," adding that, "this is an issue that should not divide us."
Byrd released a lenthy statement Friday, saying he was diagnosed with COVID the day before Thanksgiving and was admitted to the hospital on December 5 after he developed pneumonia. He was eventually placed on a ventilator and says his family began planning his funeral.
“For 55 days, I was in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. Although ventilators save lives, the sobering reality is that the overwhelming majority of intubated Covid-19 patients do not survive,” Byrd said.
He described his bout with the virus by saying, “everything that can go wrong with Covid did,” adding that he continued to get sicker and sicker – eventually needing a liver transplant.
“Just when it seemed like I was improving, suddenly I wasn’t. My liver began to fail. I developed jaundice and was later diagnosed with Covid Cholangiopathy. I was told I would need a liver transplant or else I would die. Again, my family prepared for the worst,” he wrote.
Byrd says he received a new liver on June 12, and says, while he still has a long way to go, he’s getting stronger every day.
He ended his statement by encouraging others to get vaccinated: “I have never been against taking the Covid-19 vaccine, but I understand the concerns of those who are hesitant. To them, I would say Covid is real and it is very dangerous. It is a disease that wants to kill us. Please take it seriously. Please consider getting vaccinated. This is an issue that should not divide us.”
Last June, Byrd joined many of the House GOP caucus in approving a resolution that declared the news media “sensationalized the reporting on COVID-19 in the service of political agendas.”
READ HIS FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
"Life is a miraculous gift that I am humbled beyond all odds and explanation to receive a second chance at living. I am the first to admit, I am not deserving of God’s grace in receiving this miracle.
Eight months ago, on the day before Thanksgiving, I was diagnosed with Covid-19.
At that time, the Covid-19 vaccine and antibody infusion were not available for my age group. Like most who contract the disease, I had no major underlying health conditions. Up until this point in my life, I’ve been pretty healthy and active. Foolishly, I believed this virus only seriously affected people who are at high risk.
Covid took over my lungs with lightning speed. I developed pneumonia. I got sicker and sicker, and more and more anxious. Every breath was pure agony. I went to the hospital on Dec. 5.
Like an unfortunate few, I quickly crossed the boundary of needing life supporting interventions.
Although I was reassured I would be taken care of, the moment just before I was put under by the anesthesiologist and realized this might be the last I see of this world was beyond terrifying.
For 55 days, I was in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. Although ventilators save lives, the sobering reality is that the overwhelming majority of intubated Covid-19 patients do not survive.
I have no memories of this time, but my family will certainly never forget it. They were traumatized daily by the distressing updates on my status. Everything that can go wrong with Covid did. Despite the excellent care I received, I got sicker. The virus invaded my lungs and organs and it wasn’t looking good for me. My wife and family prayed for a miracle while facing the very real prospect of planning my funeral.
Incredibly, my lungs got stronger. I was finally able to breathe again on my own but I was not out of the woods. Most people assume that when you’re taken off a ventilator, you’re done and you go home. But the truth is, the recovery is brutal and it is lonely. I could not walk. I could not use my arms. There wasn’t much I could do for myself. I lost an alarming amount of weight.
Just when it seemed like I was improving, suddenly I wasn’t. My liver began to fail. I developed jaundice and was later diagnosed with Covid Cholangiopathy. I was told I would need a liver transplant or else I would die. Again, my family prepared for the worst.
Miraculously, I received a new liver on June 12. Although I still have a long way to go, I am recovering and becoming stronger each day.
Gratitude is defined as the feeling of appreciation you get when something wonderful is done for you and you have no reason to expect or deserve it. But there isn’t a word big enough to describe the feeling I have for the incredible gifts I have received.
I will never be able to adequately express my thanks for the support and countless prayers during this ordeal. Nor for the expert care I received from caregivers, staff, nurses, doctors, and therapists at Wayne Medical Center, St. Thomas Hospital, Tennessee Select, West Tennessee Health Care, Vanderbilt Medical Center, and Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital. Except for two weeks in April, I spent eight months in either a hospital or rehab facility. My life was spared by the grace of God and these gifted medical professionals.
This experience has brought much clarity to me and my family and the importance of having each other. I am not looking backward, but rather focusing on today.
I hope that by sharing my experience it helps others to act against an enemy that knows no skin color, economic status or political affiliation.
I have never been against taking the Covid-19 vaccine, but I understand the concerns of those who are hesitant. To them, I would say Covid is real and it is very dangerous. It is a disease that wants to kill us. Please take it seriously. Please consider getting vaccinated. This is an issue that should not divide us."