CAMDEN, NJ — Tears streaming down his face, Darnell Lewis couldn’t find the words Wednesday.
Over two months had elapsed since he was admitted to Camden’s Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital on May 1 for the novel coronavirus. His battle with the respiratory illness would prove to be grueling.
The 41-year-old was transferred to intensive care after a single day, spent 44 on a ventilator and at one point flat-lined before a team of doctors and nurses was able to bring him back.
“I'm here because my mother raised a Christian child and God gave me the strength...to do what I needed to do,” Lewis said Wednesday afternoon, donning a graphic t-shirt; a face mask fastened on.
Lewis was brought out to applause from Virtua doctors, staff and his family including his fiancée, Natasha Press.
"These people right here, my daughter, my baby girl, my mother, my sister, my soon to be wife as of tomorrow. I'm here because prayer works,” he continued before issuing a word of caution. “People, this is real. I flat-lined for five minutes, I was gone. Stay in the house. Stay at home. Do what you need to do.”
Balloons and signs greeted Lewis. One reading, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Another: “You did it!”
Tiffany Lewis, Darnell’s 20-year-old daughter, said she was relieved to have her father back.
“I feel blessed,” she told TAPinto Camden. “We really just plan to stay inside now, not do much, but having him there even for that [is important].”
As attendees adhered to social distancing rules, doctors told media members that Lewis’ recovery seemed unlikely at times. Ultimately — through what his family said was the “result of prayer” — he began to improve and was transferred to a rehabilitation center within the hospital June 24 before his release this afternoon.
“Thank you doesn't seem like enough,” said Victoria Gandy, his mother. “But there's nothing else that I can say. Thank God, and thank the staff.”