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Butler County man with COVID-19 survives disease after 3 weeks on a ventilator

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 20:00:02-04

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — As the coronavirus pandemic continues throughout the region and the country, it's important for us to take note of the success stories -- stories like Gary Campbell's.

After spending 43 days at UC Health-West Chester -- 31 of those days in the intensive care unit and 25 days on a ventilator -- Campbell finally got to see his family again and go home.

"The doctors and nurses were amazing," Campbell told WCPO.

Dr. Daniel Tanase and his team treated Campbell while he was afflicted by COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. When asked if Campbell was near death, Tanase said, "At one point, yes."

Campbell said, in his mind, his strength to recover came from "only two things: love for my family, love for my wife."

Campbell said Tanase's team treated his illness as well as the emotional stress of not being able to see loved ones while he was hospitalized. He told WCPO that Tanase's team would help him speak with his family on the phone from his hospital bed.

"My mother was adamant that my dad hear her voice, and she would calm him down," said Tammy Potts, Campbell's daughter. "Tell him she loved him, and that we were thinking of him."

Phones were their only way of communicating, a precaution in place to prevent further spread of the virus. At one point, the family prepared to say goodbye to Campbell -- over the phone. He eventually recovered from the illness, he says, thanks to his family and friends reaching out with phone calls and letters.

One letter from a friend read, "Let's beat this damn virus."

Now Campbell is ready to get back to normalcy, but he said his family has expanded since the pandemic tried to claim him as a casualty. At the top of his post-COVID to-do list is to one day visit UC Health-West Chester and say thank you to Tanase and his team.

"I want to walk back in the hospital this summer, maybe beforehand -- walk," he said.

Campbell's wife, Linda, said seeing her husband so close to death from something like COVID-19 has shifted her perspective.

"Material things don't mean nothing. We worry about small things everyday. It doesn't matter what kind of car you drive, what your house looks like. It's what you are inside, and you need to live for today, and dream about tomorrow," she said.