'I'm one of the lucky ones:' Bellport man recovers from COVID-19 after spending 7 weeks on ventilator

A Bellport man recovered from COVID-19 after he spent seven weeks unconscious on a ventilator.
Gary DeGrijze, 48, came home from Stony Brook Medical Center Thursday. During that time, he says his heart stopped twice, but he kept fighting.
After nearly two months of being unconscious on a ventilator, DeGrijze woke up.
"The nurse was like, 'Do you know what today's date is?' And then when they told me I was like, oh my goodness, two months of my life just gone. Just gone," says DeGrijze.
Eventually DeGrijze was released from the hospital and transferred to the rehab unit at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson.
Like most COVID-19 patients, DeGrijze couldn't see his family in person while he was getting care. But he says it was their support, his medical team and his faith in God that helped him beat the virus.
"Yes, I'm one of the lucky ones, I have a second chance here at life," he says.
He believes he contracted COVID-19 at work as a mailman.
DeGrijze says he wants his journey to serve as a message for people who think the virus is going away and are ignoring social distancing recommendations.
"I see people getting complacent and not following these restrictions and I am afraid that more people will get sick and I just want them to look at me. Never thought I would, and I did contract it. So please follow these guidelines and restrictions," he says.
DeGrijze says he lost 50 pounds in the hospital and is still very weak. He hopes to get stronger soon so he can get back to his normal life.
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