He suffered seizures, and when his condition worsened his wife had to stop doctors from pulling the plug.
But his brother didn’t nickname him “Miracle Larry” for nothing.
After 128 days in the hospital — 51 on a ventilator — Kelly was released from a medical facility on Thursday, allowing him to return home and embrace his family.
From cold to coma
When Kelly, a retired high school assistant principal, tested positive for the coronavirus in March, he said it simply “felt like I had a cold.” After his hospital admission, however, his condition deteriorated rapidly.
“While I was in a coma, I had pneumonia in both lungs,” the 64-year-old told CNN. “I was agitated so they gave me fentanyl to calm me down. I got addicted to the fentanyl so they had to wean me down on methadone, and I had a massive brain bleed, which they say covered my entire brain.”
The doctors called in Kelly’s wife, daughter and brother to the hospital, strongly suggesting that they agree to take him off life support and say their last goodbyes. When they arrived and his wife, Dawn Kelly, set eyes on Larry’s frail body, she said her knees gave way.
“He was attached to a lot of monitors. Tubes everywhere. EEG on his brain. He looked awful,” his daughter, Jackie Kelly, said.
But as doctors insisted on pulling the plug, his wife remembered the last text that Kelly had sent her before he was placed on a ventilator: “I promise I’ll never stop fighting.”
“I said he would want to live,” Dawn Kelly recalled telling the doctors. “We all said that.”
‘You don’t want this’
With the support of his family and hard work of the medical staff, Kelly finally opened his eyes on Easter Sunday.
“I am very lucky,” Kelly said. “But on Easter Sunday in New York 527 people died, so people were dying all around me and I didn’t die. Is that a miracle? I don’t know, but this disease affects not only individuals but their entire families.”
“I feel so much for the people who lost loved ones, and it’s on everybody to wear their mask,” Kelly said tearfully. “You don’t want this. It was not easy to get here.”
At the end of May, Kelly continued his healing process at the New Jewish Home, an assisted living facility, where he worked with three different therapists — speech, physical and occupational — to get his body back to normal, according to the New York Times.
And on Thursday he finally exited the facility’s doors to cheers from his family, friends and caretakers.
The first thing he said he’s looking forward to after spending 128 days in the hospital is his first meal at home.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever had nursing home food but…” Larry said jokingly to CNN affiliate WCBS.