Saginaw man extra thankful this year after surviving severe COVID-19 illness

Bobby Jackson was on a ventilator for 40 days and he lost 56 pounds
Bobby Jackson was on a ventilator for 40 days while hospitalized with COVID-19.
Bobby Jackson was on a ventilator for 40 days while hospitalized with COVID-19.(source: WJRT)
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 5:11 PM EST
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - Bobby Jackson was hospitalized with COVID-19 around mid-summer and the leaves had fallen off the trees before he was sent home to continue recovering.

Jackson is feeling more thankful this holiday season after a brush with death and reminding everyone why it’s important to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“I’m seeing my life basically kind of flashing away, so they’re telling me, ‘Look, no, we have to sedate you immediately,’” he said.

For nearly 40 days, Jackson lay in a hospital bed on a ventilator unaware of the changing seasons.

“When you’re preparing for death like this, it can have some effect on you,” he said.

After a coughing fit at home in July, the Saginaw Township man was rushed to Covenant HealthCare hospital in Saginaw, where he tested positive for COVID-19. Jackson stayed there for seven days before being transferred to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.

The team there already was familiar with the multi-system inflammatory disease he suffers from -- sarcoidosis.

“I think it was the grace of God that my team in Ann Arbor of specialists knew I was in the hospital and said, ‘Hey we need to get this guy out here’ and immediately they took over,” Jackson said.

As his breathing worsened, he needed to be placed in a medically induced coma. He called his wife, not knowing if he would make it.

“I was able to call my wife and explain to her this may be the last time you may see me,” Jackson said. “It was hard. It was hard.”

His wife only was allowed to see him through the lens of a cell phone. Their time apart grew even more unbearable when he developed congestive heart failure.

But he got better. By the time the leaves started changing colors, Jackson was getting physical therapy and he returned home on Oct. 23 -- 56 pounds lighter than when he left. “To be honest with you I just count my blessings,” he said.

Jackson still has a raspy voice, uses a walker and breathes four liters of oxygen per day as he continues recovering. But for all the illness took, it left behind so much more.

“Sometimes it feels overwhelming when I can just look outside,” Jackson said. “I might shed a tear every day, you know what I mean, because it could’ve been different. It could’ve been different.”

This Thanksgiving, he is hoping all families do what they need to so they can see another season change together.

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