"The will to survive is stronger than you think" - A COVID-19 survivor shares his experience at McLaren

Twenty-six days. That's how long Tom Johnson spent at McLaren Greater Lansing fighting COVID-19. Johnson was recently discharged after winning his battle against the virus, and he's sharing his story of survival.

Johnson is a member of the Michigan Department of Corrections Fugitive Task Force. He decided to help his fellow officers by taking shifts at McLaren Greater Lansing's corrections unit when he suddenly passed out. What he didn't know at the time is that COVID-19 was already taking a toll on his body.

"I fainted, and that's the last thing I remembered for about a week," said Johnson. "My kidneys and liver started shutting down."

That was just the beginning of the battle Johnson was about to face. Soon after he was admitted to the intensive care unit, doctors told his family he had just a 10%chance of pulling through.

Even though Johnson was sedated, he says one thing kept him going as he fought the virus.

"All I kept picturing was my fiance" said Johnson. "She has hair that goes for miles, and all I could think about was her lying next to me with all that hair. That's what pushed me. The will to survive is stronger than you might think."

Johnson said he used to think that COVID-19 was a little worse than the flu and that people would be fine if they got their symptoms treated. Now he has a warning for people who still feel that way. "Take this extremely seriously," said Johnson. "It hit me so hard and fast, I didn't see it coming."

Johnson says he believes if he hadn't fainted at the hospital, he wouldn't be alive today. "The ICU nurses are just top-notch," said Johnson. "I can't speak highly enough about the nurses and doctors at McLaren."

As he recovered, Johnson says the staff at McLaren helped keep him motivated through his recovery by arranging video chats with his family and fiancé and making sure they knew what was happening every step of the way.

When Johnson was discharged, his care team was there to cheer for him as he rejoined his family for the first time. After 26 days in their care, Johnson says he really got to know the nurses and doctors who were there for him every day.

"Even though I couldn't see the nurses' faces behind their masks, I recognized their voices," said Johnson. "The nurses got to know me so well. I had tubes in my throat most of the time I was in the ICU, so I couldn't talk with them, but they knew I liked three pillows under my right arm, two under my left arm and the remote control in my left hand. Anytime I hit that "nurse" button, one of them was there in seconds."

Johnson lives in Benton Harbor, but he was so impressed by the care he received at McLaren Greater Lansing, he says this won't be his last time at the hospital.

"I just fell in love the nurses," said Johnson. "I'm coming back to McLaren for my hospital care."