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89-year-old Life Care Center patient recovers from coronavirus

Gene Campbell's recovery offers a story of hope.

SNOHOMISH, Wash. — As Todd Campbell waited at his home in Snohomish for his father to be released from the hospital, he admitted he thought his dad, Gene Campbell, would die after testing positive for coronavirus last month.

"I thought the worst," Todd Campbell said. "I went to tell my boss that I needed to leave and then I just broke down."

Gene Campbell had been in the Kirkland Life Care Center nursing recovering from a stroke. He had just celebrated his 89th birthday at the facility when he was diagnosed with the respiratory illness COVID-19.

The outbreak at the Kirkland nursing home was linked to at least three dozen deaths and made national headlines.

RELATED: Real-time updates: Latest news on the Washington coronavirus outbreak

Most people who get the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have reported symptoms that have not required hospitalization.

But for certain groups, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, the respiratory disease can be severe, and sometimes fatal.

Public health officials around the world are concerned that because the disease is so contagious, that patients with severe illnesses will overwhelm hospitals' capacity to care for them.

But Gene Campbell's recovery offers hope, even as the outbreak continues to disrupt daily lives. 

Todd credits his father's strong health with helping him survive the disease, despite his advanced age.

Gene, a father of 3 sons, never took a sick day in his life, said his son.

"I never even saw him go to the doctor," Todd said.

Todd said families dealing with situations similar to his must not give up.

"There's some hope. It's not a death sentence. My heart goes out to all those people who lost loved ones. They're not as lucky as me, but there is hope."

Gene was treated by doctors at Swedish Edmonds. Todd said his dad just rode the virus out with no special treatments or medications.

He has now been cleared to go home.

As for the impact all of this has had on his family, Todd said it has brought them closer together in a way they never expected. 

"My father has always been someone who wasn't very open with his feelings. Telling me or my brothers he loves us has been rare, even though we know he does. I'm finding in the last week that it's happening a lot more. It's been pretty nice."

RELATED: 90-year-old woman who battled coronavirus goes home from hospital

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