Man goes home after 223 days in hospital with COVID-19

Sep 2, 2021, 6:24 PM | Updated: Sep 3, 2021, 8:20 am

MURRAY, Utah — A Salt Lake City man has returned home after he spent 223 days hospitalized with COVID-19. Thomas Kearl, 59, feared he would die in the ICU at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, but he kept fighting to return to his family.

“It was a horrible battle. And, I felt more pain than I’ve ever experienced,” said Kearl, who fought a bout with COVID-19 that started back on his birthday, Jan. 11.

He said his faith and prayer and the care of the professionals in the hospital saved his life.

“I remember at night having bad dreams,” he said in an online press conference. “I remember one night being afraid to close my eyes because I wouldn’t make it.”

Thom Kearl was filled with gratitude last week as caregivers cheered him as he headed home. He said they saved his life.

“I had a lot of guardian angels,” he said.

Kearl and a number of family members caught COVID-19 after gathering during the holidays. He arrived at the emergency room with a temperature of 105. Days later, his illness continued to intensify.

“One of the doctors came in and said, Thom, we have to put you on a ventilator or you won’t make it through the night,” he said.

He spent months in the ICU going in and out of a coma and was told he had coded out.

“Code blue means I died,” he said.

Kearl had to be intubated five times and resuscitated by doctors four times.

“I didn’t want to die,” he said with a quavering voice. “I have too much to live for. I love my family. I love my children. I love my three grandkids. So I kept fighting.”

He said he relied on his faith and prayer to survive.

“I had some incredible spiritual experiences that I call on the other side of the veil,” Kearl said.

He couldn’t walk or stand up the entire time he was in the hospital.

“I didn’t have food. I didn’t taste food for almost seven months. They fed me through a tube,” he said.

Kearl did not have any pre-existing conditions and said he was pretty healthy. Doctors said no other patient has spent that much time in the ICU.

“In the past 18-plus months, we’ve seen a lot of bad things happen, and so to see somebody we worked extremely hard to save is really heartening for me,” said Dr. Peter Crossno, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Intermountain Medical Center.

He had to endure the entire experience without his family at his side. A son was married during his hospitalization, and he came to visit at the window. His wife was only able to visit after several months.

“Her holding my hand was a comfort that was just incredible,” he said.

He’s still recovering and doing 18 hours of physical therapy each week.

“They saved my life. And I’m grateful for that.”

Kearl got sick before the vaccine was available to his age group. But he is vaccinated now, and he encourages everyone to roll up their sleeve or face the kind of illness that he did.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE - Former state Rep. Michael DiMassa, left, arrives at U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., ...

Dave Collins

Former Connecticut lawmaker gets 27 months in prison for stealing coronavirus aid

A former Connecticut state representative has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing more than $1.2 million from the city of West Haven.

1 day ago

Jennifer Anderton and Lisa Whittaker reunion...

Ashley Moser

Utah coma patient reunites with nurse who had ‘angel’s voice’

In January 2020, Jennifer Anderton was rushed to Lakeview Hospital’s Emergency Room with COVID-19 symptoms, unaware that her journey would turn into a two-week stay. 

13 days ago

Some lots of SD Biosensor, Inc. Pilot COVID-19 At-Home Tests are being recalled. (SD Biosensor, Inc...

Paradise Afshar and Nadia Kounang

Some Pilot COVID-19 At Home Tests recalled by FDA over bacteria risk

SD Biosensor is recalling all impacted tests, which were distributed by Roche Diagnostics to various retailers to stop the spread of Covid-19 infections.

26 days ago

FILE - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies...

Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer

CDC’s Rochelle Walensky resigns, citing pandemic transition

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, submitted her resignation Friday, saying the waning of the COVID-19 pandemic was a good time to make a transition.

27 days ago

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks to jour...

Maria Cheng and Jamey Keaten

WHO downgrades COVID pandemic, says it’s no longer emergency

The World Health Organization says that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency.

27 days ago

FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...

Zeke Miller, AP White House Correspondent

US to lift most federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates next week

The Biden administration will end the last remaining federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements next week when the national public health emergency for the coronavirus ends.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Portrait of happy boy playing and splashing water in the swimming pool...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Man goes home after 223 days in hospital with COVID-19