Pequannock Special Olympian with COVID Recovers After 136 Days

Source: Today.com Health

Colby Douglas is a Special Olympics gold medalist in swimming, but it’s his victory over the coronavirus that has people cheering.

The 21-year-old from Pequannock, New Jersey, who was born with Down syndrome, returned home last week after spending 136 days in a hospital with COVID-19.

Douglas had a long road to recovery after falling ill. He asked his parents to take him to the hospital when he woke up feeling sick.

“By the time we got there, they said he already had pneumonia,” his mom, Gayle Douglas, said. She said they were transferred to another hospital where he was intubated on April 2 and diagnosed with the coronavirus. He would go on to spend a total of 136 days in the hospital, the majority of that intubated and on a ventilator.

“I knelt in the back yard and I prayed to God that Colby had so many people believing in him that he needed to heal him,” Gayle said.

Douglas’ ordeal even caught the attention of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who wished him well in a Facebook post back in June. “Meet 21-year-old Colby Douglas – an extraordinary young man and a Special Olympian,” he wrote. “His inner strength was pushed to its limits as he fought a nearly 11-week battle with #COVID19. After 75 days of being hospitalized, Colby began his rehab. We’re rooting for his full recovery!”

Because Douglas has special needs, his mother was allowed to stay in the room with him, but only if she didn’t leave. She dropped 20 pounds pacing 5 miles a day in the hospital room.

Douglas eventually woke up to his mom, his dog and thousands of get-well cards at his side, while his doctors called what happened a miracle. His homecoming was was fit for a king — people from his and neighboring towns gathered for a parade in his honor.

Her husband, George Douglas, told Savannah Guthrie of TODAY that Gayle’s role in taking care of their child should be celebrated. “You’ve interviewed presidents and actors and everybody else — Well, here’s another rock star that you can be interviewing here, because she’s just phenomenal,” he said.

Above all else, George said he was grateful his son recovered. “Just a blessing beyond blessings. It’s just unbelievable. And then the crowning jewel is he’s OK and he’s home. And that’s what we were all praying for all this time, you know? How blessed we are.”

When asked about the best part of the parade, Colby replied, “The fans.”

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