SADDLEBROOK, N.J. (CBS 2) -- A miracle of modern medicine has turned dreams into reality for a Saddlebrook, New Jersey family.
Debbie Stanzione thought this day would never come. Her husband, Mike, is coming home after being trapped in the hospital for more than 4 years -- time he can never get back.
Stanzione's husband suffers from Pompe Disease, which causes muscle degeneration. He needed a ventilator to breathe and doctors said he would never go home. The worst part of Mike's absence was missing his son Brian growing up.
"We want that back and we're going to get that back," Stanzione told CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock.
"I mostly missed throwing the ball with him when I was little and I hope we can do that again," said Brian Stanzione.
In August, Mike became the first Pompe patient to get a diaphragmatic pacemaker, enabling him to breathe without the ventilator and finally come home.
"Mike has got a heart of gold. He's loved by everybody that he meets. It's a big day for him, big day for his family," said friend Gary Santana.
Shortly after noon on Tuesday, the man of the hour arrived. Loved ones lined the driveway and tears of joy filled Debbie's eyes. His son Brian couldn't wait to hop in the ambulance and give him a great big hug.
"I made it," Stanzione declared. "I never thought this day would arrive. It's a great feeling."
And being home with his son is what he's been waiting for most.
"I'm looking forward to just spending time with him -- homework, having a catch with him, playing Wii with him," Mike Stanzione said.
Doctors said he would never come home, but there he was at him home in Saddlebrook on Tuesday surrounded by those who love him most.
Stanzione does need some assistance to get around right now, but with physical and occupational therapy, he should regain his independence. He hopes to one day drive again.
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