Memphis heart transplant patient survives COVID-19

Memphis heart transplant patient survives COVID-19
Heart transplant patient survives COVID-19 (Source: Baptist Memorial Hospital)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After months of battling COVID-19, a Memphis man is finally being released from the hospital. It is not the first time Baptist Memorial helped the 71-year-old through a tough fight.

Thomas Bryant finds joy in the simple things.

"What am I going to do when I get home? I don't know, I might go fishing," Bryant said of his release from the hospital.

With Bryant's positive attitude, it is hard to imagine that he is leaving Baptist Memorial Hospital after spending 84 days fighting COVID-19

"Everybody's been good to me up here," he said.

Bryant has been nicknamed the Mayor of the hospital because his connection to it goes way back. He got a heart transplant at Baptist 33 years ago, making him the second oldest surviving transplant patient in the nation, and the longest living heart-transplant recipient to survive COVID-19.

Infectious Disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld said Bryant's previous health issues not only made him prone to the virus, but also led to several complications while fighting it.

“He kind of fit the pattern that a lot of people in this situation go through,” Threlkeld said. “He kind of was treading water for weeks and doing OK, and then he sort of went over the falls.”

During his stay, Bryant had to be put on a ventilator four separate times.

"He really beat the odds in this situation. If a war ever breaks out, the one guy I want in the foxhole with me is Mr. Bryant," Threlkeld said.

As for Bryant’s advice for fight and winning time and time again? He says, “Hold on to your faith and keep on.”

Bryant has to make one more stop before he breaks out the fishing pole. When he’s discharged from the hospital he’s heading to a rehabilitation center, then he can go home and start doing what he loves best.

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