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After More Than 280 Days In Westchester County Hospitals, COVID-19 Long Hauler Finally Goes Home

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A man who spent 10 months in four different Westchester County hospitals clinging to life with COVID-19 long hauler symptoms finally went home on Tuesday.

Louie Estrada gave two thumbs up as he was wheeled out of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, discharged after more than 280 days.

"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling great. I haven't been home in 10 months. I still have a long way to go. My wife has been my rock," the 63-year-old told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge.

READ MORENew York City Launching Program To Help COVID Long Haulers

Estrada had no underlying conditions when he first tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 9. He was hospitalized days later and became so sick, he was intubated. His wife said doctors were preparing her for the worst.

"He's going to be on a ventilator for the rest of his life. He's not going to be able to eat food for the rest of his life. He's going to be in a nursing home for the rest of his life. And it was hard ... it was hard to stay positive," Debbie Estrada said.

But on April 1, he woke up.

"Did it for my family, my wife, my grandkids, my daughter," Louie said.


He said he will never forget all of the doctors and nurses who helped him through it.

"That's unusual to be so sick for 10 months and make it out. He could not eat. He was being fed through a gastrostomy feeding tube, he was on a high flow of oxygen with the tracheostomy, and he couldn't walk," said Richard Novich, the director of pulmonary rehabilitation at Burke.

READ MORETest In The Works To Diagnose COVID 'Long Haulers'

What Estrada's family hadn't told him was his brother also contracted the virus, and didn't make it.

"My brother passed away in Florida. He got COVID and died, and I didn't know this until months later," Louie said.

READ MORENew Insight Into Most Common Neurological Symptoms Of COVID Long Haulers

Now he's encouraging anyone who may be hesitant to get the shot.

"Get vaccinated. I was unsure of it, myself. This changed the way I feel about it," Louie said.

His focus now is on his future. He said the first thing he plans to do when he gets home is eat. But mostly, Louie Estrada is looking forward to a normal life with his family.

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