DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- After 32 days at Duke Hospital in Durham, Maury Turner just recovered from COVID-19. He was able to walk out with his wife, Stephanie, and his daughter, carrying his new grandchild.
"That moment was like a new lease on life," said Turner, now home in Fayetteville with his family.
The 53-year-old Air Force and Army veteran is Duke Hospital's 1,000th patient to recover from this deadly virus. Though he's often been honored for his sacrifices to the nation, he's now saluting frontline health workers for theirs.
At one point, Turner said he was hooked to a ventilator after coughing up blood.
He said faith and Duke staff pulled him through.
"I can't tell you how many tears I've shed with the nurses and the doctors that held my hand, prayed with me," Turner said. "They're warriors. I didn't realize that until I was in the valley with COVID. I remember going into that day you know--Lord if this is your will, I'm there. If it's not, I don't want to be there."
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Stephanie Turner, his wife of 32 years, said doctors and nurses used FaceTime to give her updates.
She said the hardest part was keeping a brave face for their four children.
"We've been on yearlong deployments, including three different occasions, and that seemed a breeze compared to 32 days of him in the hospital with his health risk. I don't ever want to go through that again," Stephanie Turner said.
While battling COVID-19 in the hospital, doctors diagnosed Turner with Leukemia, another potentially deadly disease, but he received more good news a few days ago.
"The doctor said, 'there is no signs of leukemia in your bone marrow.' I said, 'what do you mean?' He said, 'you are in remission.'"
Turner said he wants people to take COVID-19 seriously.
"Before I got COVID, I was probably in that group of people that said COVID it's just like the flu. I was wrong. I was so wrong," Turner said. "COVID is a killer and we have to protect each other."
To date, 45 patients remain at Duke Hospital battling COVID-19.
Turner said he contracted the virus from his wife who was asymptomatic.
Now, the couple said they are looking forward to spending time with their growing family.