Spartanburg Co. firefighter released from hospital after 5-month COVID battle


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A Spartanburg County firefighter spent five months in the hospital after a tough battle with COVID.

He finally got to go home on Wednesday and had quite the surprise waiting on him outside of the hospital. 7 News was there for that surprise.

“We didn’t know when it would ever come, but we knew that it would. We never gave up faith or hope,” Tonia Johnson said. “We always believed in prayer and prayer has worked.”

Don Johnson–a firefighter with the North Spartanburg Fire Department and a man doctors didn’t believe would ever go home again–walked out of the hospital on Wednesday. It marked five months and a day since he’d been admitted.

“The doctors thought and tried to tell us that he would never wake up, he would never come off dialysis, he would never survive COVID,” Tonia Johnson said.

Johnson’s wife said he’d been to three different facilities and spent nearly 100 days on a ventilator.

“We have missed every holiday since November. Every birthday. Our anniversary–32 years of marriage–we missed that,” she said.

She told 7 News to see her husband out of a hospital bed was truly a miracle.

“His kidneys are working, his heart is working, his mind is working, his legs are working,” Tonia Johnson said. “He’s doing everything they said he wouldn’t do. He’s got a purpose and we’re anxious to find out what that purpose is.”

Many first responders, medical staff, friends and family were there to cheer Don Johnson on as he left the hospital and headed home.

“I just want to hold him,” Tonia Johnson said. “I just want to hold him and never let go.”

Johnson’s family now has a message for anyone who may be going through a similar situation.

“Don’t give up. You have a chance with COVID. If you are strong enough to hold on to hope, and you know that your family member wants to live and they are strong enough, you can do this,” Tonia Johnson said.

Johnson’s family told 7 News they’re planning a big trip to celebrate.

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