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Teacher who spent 16 days intubated is now home recovering from coronavirus

A beloved Prince George's County high school English teacher has beaten the coronavirus after many two weeks in a coma in the ICU.

FREDERICK, Md. — This is a story about hope, love and inspiration in a time of darkness.

A Prince George's County high school teacher who spent 16 days intubated in an intensive care unit is now back home, recovering with the love of his life. 

Jason Flanagan, 39, has had an amazing comeback.

"I've got a friend with me for this interview," laughed his wife, Leslie, as they sat down to talk via Zoom from their one-bedroom apartment in Frederick.

Jason has really beat the odds. Doctors have found as many as 88% of COVID-19 patients who are put on ventilators don't survive.

He has no pictures from his time in the hospital, but a photo from the day he got home shows him gaunt, his eyes sunken into his head. Two weeks later, there's a glimmer in his eyes and a smile on his face. 

RELATED: Coronavirus put a Prince George's teacher on life-support – but he just wiggled his toes and squeezed a nurse's hand

Credit: Facebook

The former journalist went to Frederick Memorial Hospital on March 24, struggling to breathe, after fighting a fever for more than a week. Within hours, he was on a ventilator.

"My biggest regret was not getting a chance to say goodbye or reassure [my wife] before I went under, because that could have been the last time we ever talked," Jason said.

He spent more than two weeks in a coma, at times near death. But then he squeezed a nurse's hand, and wriggled his toes.

"There's a lot of darkness with COVID-19, but there is also a lot of hope," Leslie said, holding her husband close. "This is our living proof."

When Flanagan came out of the coma, he was shocked to learn it was April. He had no memory of the end of March. He's written a series of posts on Facebook about his ordeal.

"Now I'm going to cherish all the time that we have and make sure, you know, even if it's just going to the store, making sure I say goodbye and I love you," Jason said.

RELATED: 'I held his hand and told him I love him' | Grieving family remembers dad who died after leaving MD nursing home

Jason described coming home to his walk-up apartment on April 9. 

"They were supposed to take me up on a stretcher, but the message got mixed up, and they actually had to help me walk up the stairs."

But he said he's been gaining strength ever since. 

"Every night before we go to sleep, I touch him and make sure he's still breathing," Leslie said, "Because I have to make sure."

Jason is already planning lessons for the next school year at High Point High School in Beltsville. 

"Social distancing, wearing the mask, it is imperative we do that until everyone is safe, because otherwise, something that happened to me, could happen to someone else," Jason said. "And I wouldn't wish that on anyone."

After Jason went to the ICU, his wife and mother said he had no underlying conditions. But when he awoke, a doctor told him he had diabetes. He now thinks that may have made him more vulnerable to coronavirus. He said he hadn't had a routine doctor's check-up in years, but he's planning to change his habits now.

A nurse left Jason a note that she'd held his hand and tried to comfort him. He said he remembers it in a sort of fever dream. He and Leslie are convinced the human touch helped him come back.

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