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Surviving COVID: Bay Area man recovering after virus left him in months-long coma


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A Bay Area man is sharing his incredible story of survival from COVID-19. 

The virus left him in a months-long coma.  

After more than 100 days he’s finally back home but now he faces a new challenge, the long-term effects. 

It’s something members of Congress also want to know about. 

More than 3-million people worldwide have died from the COVID-19 virus.  

Among those, more than 577,000 Americans.

Michael Lai was nearly one of them.  

“I feel blessed to be alive,” Michael said.  

The 42-year-old walked back into his house for the first time last month, after a 124-day battle with the virus in the hospital.   

“I checked into the ER and yeah, 4 months later, you walk out, I walked out,” Michael said. 

The morning of December 5, Michael says he went to the emergency room at John Muir Hospital with flu-like symptoms and struggled to breathe. 

That would be his last memory. 

“So I was medically induced coma for more than 2 plus months. In a way, that’s a blessing because I don’t remember anything,” Michael said.

Week after week, he lay there motionless, with tubes running in and out of his body. 

The virus not only robbed him of time, but also 70-pounds. 

With his condition not improving, it appeared the virus was winning the battle of his body. 

Annie, Michael’s wife of nearly 21-years, was prepared to make the decision to let him go. 

“She asked me what can we do and I just said let me in. I just need to hold his hand, and the same day for the very first time John Muir let me in,” Annie said. 

For the next four weeks, she would visit him once a week until finally, after 2-months he woke up. 

“The next time I woke up, somebody told me it was already 2021,” Michael said.  

He transferred to UCSF where he underwent months of intense therapy.  

Michael is hooked up to an oxygen tank, due to the virus severely damaging his lungs. 

His biggest regret, letting down his family and not being active with his 3-young sons. 

“They’re very active in sports and I was with them every step of the way. Now in my condition, I can’t and that’s been a life-changing experience,” Michael said.

The experience of what does come next on this journey is what he most fears. 

“I go to dark places to think about if this is it, and if I’ll be attached to oxygen tanks for the rest of my life,” Michael said.

Since the long-term impacts of COVID are still unknown, recently a Congressional subcommittee learned from doctors and even patients about the challenges of long-haul covid and the recovery from the virus. 

“It hasn’t even been technically, or even medically named yet, so I guess we have to give this a name,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, said. 

California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, chairs the House subcommittee on health. 

For 5-hours late last month, some of the country’s top doctors discussed the best treatments available for long-haul COVID.

Leaders also confirmed the CDC is also in the final stages of finalizing guidelines on best ways for doctors to treat the post-virus symptoms. 

According to the director of the National Institutes of Health, as many as 3-million Americans could be left with chronic health problems, even after mild infections. 

Michael is still undergoing intense physical therapy to try to get him back to his old self. 

While the virus has taken so much from him, he says it’s also given him two things he’s never had before: patience and perspective. 

“You can spend your days being sad, or you can spend your days being happy. My wife always reminds me hey, at least you at the dinner table, having dinner with us,” Michael said.

Both will be needed, to move into the phase of the COVID virus’ unknown.

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