South Bay hospital welcomes back longest COVID patient

A South Bay man was surprised by a swarm of caregivers outside a local medical center where he had been hospitalized for nine months due to COVID complications.

On Wednesday, Noah Davis, 31, of San Jose, returned to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for the first time since being discharged.

Davis, who was wheel-chair bound, rolled out of a specially outfitted taxi and was greeted with a hero's welcome from some of the very people who saved his life.

"This is my second home, you know? I feel like this is my family," Davis said. "I feel like I’m coming back to say hi to people I’ve known my whole life."

Davis spent more than nine months battling COVID at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the hospital's longest patient since the onset of the pandemic.

"My whole family was wearing masks, and washing hands every time we came home. Lysol spraying our mail," he recalled.

Despite those precautions, the former third-party Apple tech worker got sick, and his condition worsened over time. Doctors said his blood oxygen level dropped by about one-third.

"He was in severe respiratory distress. And patients like that as they progress, particularly if they require intensive care treatment, have a very high risk of mortality," said Dr. Clifford Wang, chief of medicine at the hospital.

With Davis hovering at death’s door, doctors put him in a low-grade coma. About two months later, the treatment worked to stabilize his condition.

But the cost was high. He lost the ability to walk, use his left hand, and even breathing on his own had become a burden.

"Man, I can’t believe I take breathing for granted and walking for granted. I can’t wait to get back to that," Davis said.

He continues to suffer from what researchers call "long COVID." One published study shows that in half of COVID patients, it produced a general decline in their well-being. Some of the symptoms associated with long COVID include fatigue, fever, and pain. Twenty-percent of COVID patients have decreased mobility.

"This is a young man who has challenges even doing some of the most fundamental things in life," said Dr. Stephen Mckenna, chief of the respiratory rehabilitation unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. "We’re all hopeful he’ll continue to make improvements."

Since his release, Noah has been recovering at home. But doctors said he is condition has improved well enough for him to receive outpatient treatment.

Davis' long road to recovery, now includes using a motorized wheel chair. But he's grateful to be alive.

"I never want to go through this again. And I wouldn’t wish it on anybody," he said.