Salem Fire-EMS paramedic details experience battling COVID-19 in hospital for 36 days

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:14 PM EST
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Salem, Va. (WDBJ) - A Salem man is sharing his story of survival after battling COVID-19 in a hospital for 36 days -12 of which he was on a ventilator. He said staying positive helped him tremendously.

A mild case of COVID-19 quickly turned into a severe one for 40-year-old Devin Turner, a paramedic with Salem Fire-EMS. He went to the emergency room at LewisGale Medical Center in Salem not knowing he was going to be there for the next 36 days.

“I also kind of knew inside how sick I was, and I think that’s when our story got real, because I looked at my wife, and I said, this will not be the way I leave you, don’t worry about that,” Devin said.

He was immediately admitted to the ICU with dangerously low oxygen levels and his condition kept getting worse.

“That’s when I ended up being intubated and put on a vent[ilator] for the next 12 days, so that period went dark, but that’s when everyone out here started to realize how bad it was,” he said.

Including his wife, Sherrie Turner,

“It was very scary, I mean, I’m a nurse, so it’s even scarier when you have that knowledge of what’s going on ... I kind of had the same perspective as he did, I’m not going to be a widow at the age of 40, you have to pull through,” Sherrie said.

And with the help of LewisGale staff, he miraculously did.

“To say I was very sick and probably had less than a 5% chance of living is probably actually an understatement, but luckily my body and everything else just flipped a switch and things started getting better,” Devin said.

He was put on a new technology at the hospital that gave him heated oxygen, which he said helped save his life. He was released from LewisGale Sunday, and his fellow Fire-EMS members lined up to cheer him on.

“It was awe-inspiring to see that,” Devin said.

Now, he’s going through physical and occupational therapy, but said he feels great mentally and even has a new outlook.

“You kind of realize all the experiences you were missing out on, and I literally have a second chance at life, and I’m not going to let that down,” Devin said.

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