MILWAUKEE — When Arvin McCray's sister, Kathy, checked him into the Milwaukee VA, she had no idea the severity of his illness. All she knew was that he had a fever, but doctors could tell he was going to be in a fight for his life.
"But we did not expect him to make it through that first night and for a couple off nights afterwards. We didn’t expect him to make it through. He was very sick," McCray's doctor, Dr. Sarah Nickoloff, said.
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For the first 17 days of his stay at the Milwaukee VA, 50-year-old Army Veteran McCray was sedated and using a respirator to breathe. Doctors didn't think those first few nights he would make it.
Little did they know that McCray was a fighter. Fifty days later, on Tuesday May 5, he left the VA being able to say he beat the coronavirus.
Army Veteran Arvin McCray was released from the Milwaukee VA today after a 50 day battle with the coronavirus. When he was checked in on March 17, doctors thought he wouldn’t make it through the night. Today, McCray gets to see his family for the first time in 50 days 🙏 pic.twitter.com/2Jpk8wcbed— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) May 5, 2020
"It's like I was born, you know, born all over again, you know. I can’t even explain it," McCray said.
Dozens of doctors, nurses, and hospital staff lined the hallway cheering him on and holding signs congratulating him as he exited the hospital.
"I’m just happy. I’m happy and I want to try and stay healthy," he said outside of the hospital.
McCray served in the Army from 1990-1994. He also spent his time restoring two classic cars – a 1970 black Chevy Chevelle, and a 1969 baby blue Buick Electra convertible. He went to the Chicago Auto Show with several other friends a few days before getting sick and thinks that’s where he may have gotten the virus.
Before leaving he thanked all the doctors that helped him along the way. However, he thanked his sister most importantly. Had it not been for her, he may not be alive.
She took him to the Emergency Department on March 17 when he had a fever not knowing exactly what was going on. She wanted to be safe than sorry.
"I don’t want to think where he would be if I hadn't," Kathy McCray said.
Turns out that decision may have been the one that saved his life.
Tuesday will be the first time McCray will be able to see his family in almost two months. After he catches up with them, he has one thing on his mind.
"Get me some real food."