MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – James Gardner could have been one of the more than 2,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic in Miami-Dade County. But on Thursday, the grandfather left Jackson South Medical Center feeling victorious and loved.
The COVID-19 survivor said he fought for his life for 31 days. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 at 76 years old and celebrated his 77th birthday in the hospital ― without being able to see his wife, Maggie Gardner, or his three adoptive children.
“It was hard, but through God all things are possible,” Gardner said. “I know that. I am a living witness of that.”
Dr. Andrew Pastewski, Jackson South’s intensive care unit medical director, said Gardner benefited from the advancements in COVID-19 treatments since the first coronavirus surge in March.
“He was admitted at the end of July. He got two rounds of convalescent plasma. He got the Remdesivir. His oxygenation was borderline,” Pastewski said. “His oxygenation was borderline. Back in the initial surge, we probably would have intubated him. This time around, we have learned to try to avoid intubation as much as possible.”
The coronavirus first infected Maggie Gardner. She recovered, but the disease was tougher on Gardner, her husband of nine years. Gardner said the hospital code team’s resuscitative efforts saved him twice.
Maggie Gardner said she was grateful for all of the nurses and doctors who helped her husband, whom she has known since childhood. She welcomed him with a new wedding band and took him home to a nice meal: Fried chicken, collard greens and cabbage.
“He looks wonderful. He looks younger,” she said. “It seems like they must have given him an antidote to make him look younger.”
Gardner said he is going to get stronger and his goal is to donate plasma to help other COVID-19 patients survive.