DENVER -- The staff at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree hosted a rousing send-off for an 88-year old Highlands Ranch man who battled the novel coronavirus for more than 31 days.
The staff videotaped James Blackman being wheeled toward the entrance where his wife was waiting.
Anita Blackman removed the hospital mask from her face and gave her beloved husband a kiss.
"It's been one heck of a roller coaster ride," said the couple's daughter, Lela Beechum. "Several times, we were told it didn't look good."
Mrs. Blackman said her husband likely contracted the virus at a store back in March.
"He was a former marketing rep and loved to go in and out of stores," she said, "so he was doing that."
It wasn't long before he began exhibiting serious symptoms.
"He got hit really fast," she said, adding that he didn't get out of bed March 26, and that when she kissed him on the back of his head, "he was burning up."
Anita said she got James to the Hospital, where he spent the night and was then sent home.
She said he went downhill fast and ended up back in the E.R.
"He got to the point where he was on 15 liters of oxygen in the ICU," she said. "They called and said that we can't put him on anymore oxygen without a ventilator, and we won't put him on a ventilator because of his age."
That's when Anita really began to worry.
"I didn't now if I'd ever see him again. I spent the day crying and praying, and sharing with the rest of the family," she said. "His kids are all down in North Carolina."
Anita said the virus affected his ability to swallow.
She said hospital staff put a line into his stomach and that the nourishment apparently helped him turn around.
Mr. Blackman's struggles caused a great deal of stress for his daughter, a Certified Nursing Assistant in Florida.
So much stress that it affected her health.
"I am 39 years old and I suffered a double heart attack on April 3," Lela said. "This was about a week after my dad was hospitalized."
She said doctors went into her heart and placed two stints in her arteries.
Lela is on the mend now. So is her father.
The family is singing the praises of the staff at Sky Ridge.
"I just can't say enough about Sky Ridge Medical Center," Anita said. "I mean, they were just fabulous through this."
Power of prayer
Anita added that friends and missionaries all over the world have kept the family in their prayers.
"It's by the Grace of God that he's made it through this," she said.
She added that after a 31-day hospital stay, her husband's arm and leg muscles atrophied, "so he's in rehab learning how to walk again."
Lela said she was excited to see the hospital's video showing her mom and dad kissing.
"It just melted my heart," she said, "and I started crying like crazy."
Anita said James may be out of the hospital, but he's not out of the woods, yet.
"He still has some confusion, but he's still himself," she said. "He's happy. He loves the Lord, and we're going to make it".