Plano man recovering after nearly 200 days in hospital with COVID-19

A Plano man spent nearly 200 days in the hospital with COVID-19.

As he fought to survive, his wife and four children struggled to carry on at home. 

They said it would not have been possible without the help from their community. 

Emily Welch said it's a miracle her husband, Josh, survived.

Now she's focused on saying thank you to their church and school, their neighbors, and even strangers who showed up for their family.

Josh Welch went to the ICU with COVID pneumonia in July 2021.

"I thought he’d be in the hospital a few weeks and be home," his wife recalled.

Weeks turned to months. 

"Every single day was unknown," Emily said.

197 days later, doctors cleared him to go home. 

"He’s completely a miracle. He has fought through having lung collapse, GI bleed, kidneys failing, he was on dialysis," his wife said. 

For those 197 days, his wife tried to keep it together, with a full-time job as a school counselor at St. Patrick Catholic School in Dallas and four busy children at home in Plano. 

"It was definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve had to face in my life," Emily said.

She said she met the challenge thanks to a village of supporters.

"I haven’t cooked a meal since July…On days where my friends knew I was just down and out, I would come home and have huge gift baskets," she said. "My neighbors, at Christmas, put lights on our house as a surprise. They all pitched in…People from school came and decorated my house and got us a tree."

And when Josh finally came home, that same community showed up. 

"That was huge. It was humbling to see all those people come out," Emily recalled.

A number of people came out for a welcome home car parade.

"They made posters and it was great to allow them to see that he fought and got through it," his wife said. "And for him too, I think that gave him a sense of, oh, wow look at all these people that have supported our family."

The road to recovery will be a long one.

"He’s still on oxygen 24/7, which is hard to watch," his wife said.

The "Josh Strong" bracelet on Emily’s arm is a reminder of the support that will be there every step of the way. 

"The amount of people that reached out, friends of friends, people we didn’t even know that would stop by just with a card, a prayer card," she said. "It’s overwhelming and humbling the amount of support our family’s been given and we are so grateful."

Josh did not have any underlying conditions and was not vaccinated when he got COVID-19 Emily said they had been waiting for full FDA approval.

Since then, the entire family, including Josh, has gotten their shots.

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