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Family Not Taking Time Together For Granted After Father's Battle With COVID-19

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This weekend, families all over the country celebrated dad. And this year, the day had extra meaning for some.

Jeff Sweat's family isn't taking their time together for granted after his battle with COVID-19.

"I woke up and I was so short of breath that I couldn't walk across the hall," he said.

In February, the 49-year-old's wife, Sunny, rushed him to UCLA Medical Center.

Sunny said, "I circled for about an hour, just thinking, 'Oh, I'm just gonna pick him up again.'"

But Jeff had an acute case of COVID-19, and doctors decided his best chance for survival would be to put him in a medically induced coma.

Alone in the ICU, he said goodbye to his family over Zoom, telling them, "I just wanted you guys to know how much I love you."

Every time he spoke, his oxygen levels got so low hospital alarms went off.

Jeff's son Jackson said, "I thought this was gonna be the last time I was ever gonna talk to him."

Jeff said, "They told me I would probably be under for two to three days, and then I woke up three weeks later." It was another month before Jeff left the hospital.

Doctors have since diagnosed the entire family with Post-Intensive Care Syndrome, which is similar to PTSD.

"Oh, I broke down. I broke down every single day," Sunny says. Even now, she says she panics when Jeff leaves the house. They know it will be a while before they can trust this new reality. Jeff says, "I think we don't take for granted being together anymore."

These days, Jeff celebrates life. With his lung capacity at 60%, he's back mountain biking.

Charlie, one of Jeff's three children, says, "We came so close to losing him, so I think we should take keeping him as a gift."

A gift this family will cherish this Father's Day and beyond.

Jeff is an author and writing a book about his near-death experience titled "From COVID, with Love."

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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