'It's like I was born again:' West Allis Army vet released from VA hospital after 48-day battle with COVID-19

MILWAUKEE -- A West Allis man who beat the odds was released from the Milwaukee VA Medical Center Tuesday, May 5 -- 48 days after he was admitted with symptoms of COVID-19.

Hospital hallways are typically designed for quiet conversations over matters of life and death, but Arvin McCray's survival called for a rowdy celebration.

"I'm just happy," said McCray. "I'm happy I'm alive. Happy it's over with."

Arvin McCray

Arvin McCray

Minutes after arriving at the hospital, doctors put McCray on a ventilator and tested him for COVID-19.

"It was the first test result we had come back positive," said Dr. Sarah Nickoloff, Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

The Army veteran was so sick, doctors didn't expect him to make it through the night.

"They told me 80% of people on a ventilator don't make it," said Kathy McCray, Arvin's sister. "I told them he was going to be in that 20%."

Arvin McCray

A team of health care workers battled the virus for weeks as it waged war on McCray's memory. After 18 days of sedation and more than 30 confined to his hospital bed, McCray said he doesn't remember many of the tests, treatments or the FaceTime call with family -- celebrating his 50th birthday.

"It was like I was born, born all over again...I can't even explain it," said McCray.

He will always remember this day -- sent of by his heroes to recover at home.

"Tears of joy," said Kathy McCray. "Tears of joy. Tears of joy."

Arvin McCray

McCray said he's looking forward to some home-cooked meals.