SAN JOSE, Calif. - He went from Ironman to miracle man. San Jose resident Tom Butts was released from Kaiser Permanente San Jose Friday after suriviving a very bad case of COVID-19. Doctors are crediting his physical and mental strength for helping him pull through.
"The fight of this man...he'll never give up. And that's why I think he's here today," says his sister Cindy Loque.
Tom had been in incredible shape. At age 64 he was still an Ironman triathlete. But when coronavirus hit, it hit hard.
"About two days after he was admitted to the ICU, I got a call saying he wasn't going to make it through the night. He needed to do dialysis and his body really wasn't strong enough. His heart wasn't strong enough," says his daughter Amanda McDermott.
His wife was brought in to say her goodbyes. But Tom pulled through that night and the next.
It was touch and go like that for most of March and April with each day full of obstacles.
"He has overcome each and every one. He is a testament to the power of humanity, the power of what we can do when we all come together, and the power of one person's will," says Dr. Sukhvinder Nagi, one of his doctors at Kaiser.
Still, the severity of the disease came as a shock to the Butts family.
"How could somebody as healthy as he, with no underlying health problems, be this sick?" says Loque.
They say they're grateful for the team of doctors and nurses at Kaiser that helped him pull through. And grateful Tom is so strong.
"Just an insane amount of gratitude and faith. I'm just so proud that he is the man that he is that would fight this hard," says McDermott.
As for Tom, he was wheeled out to chants of "you are an Ironman."
He says he's feeling great, amazed by the family and friends there to cheer him on, and ready to head home.
At 110 days, Tom Butts had been at Kaiser San Jose, longer than any other COVID-19 patient. He wrote his doctors and nurses a thank you note before he left.