After more than three grueling months battling and recovering from COVID-19, an emergency room physician reunited with his wife and three children on Friday.
Dr. Grant Lashley contracted the coronavirus on the front lines in April and then suffered a stroke. He was put on a ventilator for 39 days.
“There were a lot of days when we didn’t know if Grant would survive the intensive care,” his wife, Dr. Melissa Harrington, told ABC News.
But getting out of the ICU was just the beginning of a long road to recovery.
Lashley spent six weeks at at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, where he relearned basic functions.
“It’s humbling to say, ‘help me put my socks on, help me go to the bathroom, help me go to the shower,’” he explained. “All those things that we just take for granted.”
Hospital staff at TIRR Memorial Hermann cheered as he departed the facility and embraced his family for the first time in 96 days.
“It was very overwhelming — just so exciting,” Lashley told ABC News of being able to walk out the doors on his own. “That was my goal. I said, ‘I’m going to do it … I’m gonna walk out of here when I leave.’”
The father of three to 9-year-old Wyatt and 7-year-old twins Cody and Weston, said as recently as three weeks ago, he feared this moment wouldn’t be possible.
“The first week was rough because we’re getting new things to do new activities, and every one of them [was] at first very challenging, but I never told them no,” he said. “I’ll be doing the wheelchair [and] walker for a little while, but soon I’m [going to be] walking without anything.”
Lashley’s attending physician Dr. Nikola Dragojlovic, told ABC News that the previously healthy 50-year-old came to the facility with weakness in his arms and legs due to a loss of muscle mass from stroke that he had as a complication of the virus.
“It’s happening to people with COVID. It’s not just a breathing disease, people get neurologic impairments like loss of strength, or they can develop a stroke or loss of circulation in the arms and legs that can contribute to weakness and loss of independence as well,” Dragojlovic said.
Harrington called it “thrilling” to see the strides her husband has made since he started rehabilitation.
“When he got here, he couldn’t do anything — no mobility at all,” she said. “Physically, things are just different for him now and then they won’t always be that way, but it’s gonna be a long road to recovery.”
“You have to give it your best foot forward and try every day,” Lashley said. “Every day is little things that improve, and you’ve got to be happy for each little step along the way. And in time we’ll see it get better.”
Lashley praised his physical therapists for motivating him.
“Every day got better,” he said. “I realized, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Harrington said that “as a physician, you’re used to fixing things.” But she said that with her husband’s virus, amid moments of uncertainty, she had to explain the situation to her kids “to soften the blow for them.”
She said that this experience gave her empathy for other families going through a similar struggle with COVID-19.
The couple will now return to their home in Lafayette, Louisiana.
“He’s a hero,” Harrington said of Lashley. “He’s a warrior.”