COVID-19 patient becomes EMT to lend support through personal experience

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Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 11:39 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/Gray News) – JJ Smith started feeling sick on Jan. 5, thinking he had a bad sinus infection.

“I would take a couple over the counter medicines and within a couple of days, I’d be perfectly fine. One day later, I woke up with a 104 fever and I was diagnosed with double covid and pneumonia,” Smith told WIS.

Once admitted to the hospital, things kept getting worse.

Smith said he was begging to be intubated. He was breathing around 42 times a minute and his oxygen saturation was at 85 percent. He was maxed out on non-invasive ventilation.

He says doctors began to lose hope.

“Dr. Keith pretty much told my parents that I may or may not make it because of how fast I was deteriorating, and my body just couldn’t handle it,” Smith said.

Within the next day, Smith’s health took a 180; and three days later, he was sent home on oxygen.

“COVID has been a very long road for me still to this day, and if I wouldn’t have had the support system since day one, I really don’t know mentally or physically where I would be at right now,” Smith said, adding that his journey took him on a new path to lend that same support to others.

Smith, 23, is now a nursing technician in the critical care unit, working alongside the same nurses who cared for him.

“I was blessed to still be here today, because of the amazing critical care staff that I can now call co-workers,” Smith said.

Patients and staff say his smiling face helps them get through the tough days.

“Knowing that I’m able to be there to comfort them and to tell them that I personally went through what they’re about to go through, they feel more at ease, more relaxed knowing that I had the same doctor they did, knowing I was in the same room as the. It’s almost a personal connection,” Smith said.

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