A COVID Miracle: Virus patient becomes EMT Nurse

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Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 10:21 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - “Hey I can’t breathe, I’m being placed on a ventilator, and I love you.”

January 5th was the day JJ Smith started feeling sick—and those were the last words he said to his parents over the phone.

“I figured it would be like a bad sinus infection, I would take a couple over the counter medicines and within a couple of days I’d be perfectly fine. One day later, I woke up with a 104 fever and I was diagnosed with double covid and a pneumonia,” says Smith.

Once admitted to the hospital, things kept getting worse.

JJ says he was begging to be intubated. He was breathing around 42 times a minute and his oxygen saturation was at 85 percent. He was maxed out on non-invasive ventilation.

He says doctors began to lose hope.

“Dr. Keith pretty much told my parents that I may or may not make it because of how fast I was deteriorating, and my body just couldn’t handle it,” says Smith.

But with an outpour of prayers from friends and family--- and amazing care from nurses, a miracle happened.

Within the next day, JJ’s health took a 180—and three days later, he was sent home on oxygen.

He says the love he received during that time is what kept him alive.

“COVID has been a very long road for me still to this day, and if I wouldn’t have had the support system since day one, I really don’t know mentally or physically where I would be at right now.”

And that’s why he decided to take on a new path-- to lend that same support to others.

Fast forward to today, the 23 year-old is now a nursing technician in the critical care unit at Lexington Medical Center. Working alongside those same nurses who cared for him.

“I was blessed to still be here today, because of the amazing critical care staff that I can now call co-workers,” says Smith.

“The friendships, the companionships that were spent through that time made me personally change my decision to go back to nursing school, because the care I received while I have covid was incomparable to anything else. And that’s something that I want to give back to help others on their absolute worst day whether its covid or not.”

Patients and staff say he’s that smiling face they need to get through those tough days.

“Knowing that I’m able to be there to comfort them and to tell them that I personally went through what they’re about to go through, they feel more at ease, more relaxed knowing that I had the same doctor they did, knowing I was in the same room as them. It’s almost a personal connection. It kind of gives you the warm fuzzy feelings almost, knowing that you were here at one time receiving the care that you’re about to give to others.”

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