Maumee man shares his COVID-19 survival story

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MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - Updated figures showing the growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths in our state, community and region are everywhere.

But there are survivors. Health experts agree most people will survive the virus.

Bryce Harbaugh is one. The Maumee resident made a full recovery from COVID-19 after staying at St. Luke's Hospital for a few days. He said his son, who lives in New Jersey, also tested positive for the virus, which caused him to take what he described as mild flu-like symptoms seriously.

"I would say I'm a very healthy 76-year-old," Harbaugh said.

His doctor agrees.

"This is what we doctors hope and wish to see in every patient. Unfortunately, the disease is very unpredictable and some patients, in spite of us doing everything we can, may not do as well as Bryce," said Dr. Nizar Daboul.

Dr. Daboul is the Chief of Staff at St. Luke's Hospital. He said the hospital is fully staffed, well-equipped, and ready to care for COVID-19 patients, but he believes 50-80 percent of cases will not require hospitalization.

"It's important to be concerned and to be careful with this disease. However, do not panic. If you want to help us doctors and nurses and health care workers who are on the front for this disease, please stay home," said Dr. Daboul.

Earlier this month, Bryce started feeling tired and achy. Over time he developed a cough, a fever, and began experiencing shortness of breath.

He went to the emergency room with his wife, Judy. At that point, he couldn't get a coronavirus test and ultimately was sent home thinking he had the flu.

"Very unusual for me to be as knocked out as I was and sleeping as much as I was sleeping and feeling as crummy as I felt for as long as I felt. That was unusual," said Harbaugh.

When Bryce's condition gradually got worse, he went back to the ER and asked for a chest X-ray.

"I was declared a person of interest, and they said we're going to keep ya and have a real close look at this," said Harbaugh.

During his four day stay at St. Luke's Hospital while awaiting test results, Bryce was kept in isolation.

No one was allowed in and he wasn't allowed out. For him, that was the hardest part.

"Being in isolation turns out to be after a while just kind of uncomfortable," said Harbaugh.

While he was staying at St. Luke's Hospital, he was kept in a separate part of the facility with other COVID-19 patients.

Harbaugh said he was impressed with amount of protective gear his caretakers wore.

He wrote a letter to everyone he could think of that he came in contact with between March 8-25. So far, he said none of them seem to have it.

"Sort of the miracle in this whole thing is that Judy, who was with me every step of this way, did not contract the disease," he said.

Bryce is grateful to all of the health care workers on the front lines.

"God is at work, but so are people and they're really hustling and doing a great job," said Harbaugh.

The big takeaway Bryce hopes the public gets from hearing his story is that the medical community is working extremely hard to fight this disease and it's vital we all listen to what the experts are telling us to do in order to keep us all safe.

He battled the coronavirus and won.

Now he's feeling good and enjoying neighborhood walks with his wife.

"I feel like myself again," he said.