‘Our angel on Earth’: Neb. man survives 4 weeks on ventilator with COVID-19

OMAHA, Neb. – A Nebraska man is recovering after he spent more than a month at the hospital battling COVID-19, most of that time on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.

Greg Frost, a 54-year-old Metropolitan Utilities District plant worker in Omaha, Nebraska, first started showing coronavirus symptoms around Halloween. Doctors admitted him to Methodist Hospital a few days later on Nov. 3.

“He was not coherent. He couldn’t keep his eyes open and was very weak,” said his daughter, Haley Frost. “It was really scary when we had to drop him off at the ER. They don’t let you come in with the no visitors.”

But family members say Greg Frost is a fighter. For the next 39 days, he battled COVID-19, most of that time spent in the intensive care unit while heavily sedated and on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.

“When we got the call that he got put on a ventilator, I think it hit us that maybe he wasn’t going to make it,” Haley Frost said. “Once you hear someone is going on a ventilator, you think life support, it’s the end, they’re gonna die.”

Dr. Daniel Hershberger with Nebraska Medicine says ventilators are only used as a last resort, as a life-saving maneuver. One in three people with COVID-19 on a ventilator don’t make it.

Greg Frost’s family didn’t want him to become a statistic, so they waited, hoping he would wake up. On Dec. 6, out of COVID isolation, the pulmonologist told his wife, Kris Frost, it was time to take him off the ventilator.

“I was scared, but I also wanted to see him and be there with him,” Kris Frost said.

Greg Frost started breathing on his own with oxygen and moved to a skilled nursing facility Dec. 11. But his family says the virus took a toll on his body. His only health issue beforehand was high blood pressure.

“We were trying to FaceTime him because we can’t see him, and he couldn’t hold the phone up,” Haley Frost said. “He was like, ‘This phone feels like a brick.’”

Calling him their miracle, Greg Frost’s family will be there to help him regain his strength. He is expected to move to Madonna Rehabilitation next week.

“He is our angel on Earth,” Haley Frost said.

The family says they’ll wait to celebrate Christmas and the new year until Greg Frost finally returns home after his long recovery back to health.

“He wasn’t ready to give up,” Kris Frost said. “We can’t wait until he gets to come home.”