'A fighter’ – Army reservist who spent 7 weeks on ventilator is recovering

A New York National Guard veteran, active Army reservist, Postal Service letter carrier and father of four from Bellport almost didn’t make it after spending seven weeks on a ventilator – but is taking strides to make it back home. 
Gary Degrijze, 48, was hospitalized in Stony Brook with COVID-19 on March 22. His doctor told News 12 that his heart stopped twice while he was in ICU. His kidneys failed, so he was on dialysis for a month. However, the medical staff could tell Degrijze was fighting for his life.
“He was young. He was a fighter – and every time something happened, he would always bounce back just a little bit,” says Dr. Jerry Rubano, of Stony Brook Medicine.
Degrijze spoke with News 12 on Wednesday, saying that the last thing he remembers is being in the emergency room at Stony Brook. He woke up two months later and says he still can't believe how sick he was. 
“I want to get back to normalcy. I want to go back to work. I want to get back to doing everything I was before,” he says. “I know it's going to take some time but I just got to have patience…The man upstairs gave me a second chance.”
Degrijze is in a rehab facility where he is trying to regain his strength. When he does, he will be able to return home to his wife Ana and his children.
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