Brannon Gragg pleaded with Brian Worley, M.D., pulmonary critical care specialist at Hillcrest Hospital South, after he was admitted for COVID-19 last spring.
“He was begging to make sure he would be around in October to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding,” Worley said. “We said, ‘We’ll make sure you’re there.’”
And, he did. Worley and the Hillcrest South ICU staff received invitations for his daughter Cheyenne’s wedding, representing additional proof of Gragg’s miraculous recovery from the virus. Just 17 days after being admitted to Hillcrest South, he was released to go home. Gragg was dubbed the “Miracle Child” by those who treated him.
“I was told by everybody that I was the sickest person they had seen go through this,” Gragg said. “(Today) I feel like nothing ever happened.”
“Honestly, he shouldn’t have survived,” Worley said of Gragg’s case. “Based on everything that’s happened, he’s one of the few that has survived and recovered.”
In May 2021, Gragg was traveling to Louisiana for work when he tested positive for coronavirus. His wife, Beth, also tested positive while back in their Coweta home. Beth experienced mild symptoms from COVID-19. Gragg was not so fortunate.
He was admitted to Hillcrest South and moved into ICU when tests revealed his lungs had filled with pneumonia. He was put on a ventilator but needed additional care. Gragg was placed on a RotoProne bed, an apparatus that rotates the patient on their stomach to help improve the distribution and volume of air in their lungs. His chest X-rays and oxygen levels were getting worse.
Gragg’s family was told he would be in the RotoProne bed for two weeks. Instead, his vitals began to level out after just three days. He was taken out of the RotoProne bed after five days.
Gragg continued to improve and was taken off the ventilator. His condition allowed him to transition out of ICU before he was released to go home on May 28.
“That’s blindingly fast,” Worley said of Gragg’s recovery timeframe. “The speed with which he got sick and the speed with which he got better … Even the patients who don’t go on a ventilator, they don’t get better in two weeks.
Worley put Gragg’s rate of recovery in perspective by adding, “This would be No. 1 in the nation rare. This just doesn’t happen.”
Gragg spent the month of June recuperating at home after losing 40 pounds during his encounter with COVID-19. By early July, he was back on his feet and found a new job.
“I just feel so blessed. The Lord put the right people in the right position,” Gragg said of his recovery.
Gragg praised his care team that included Worley and pulmonary critical care specialists Muhammad Shaukat, M.D., and Shravan Shrestha, M.D.
“I had nurses that went above and beyond,” Gragg said. “They were there holding my hand, helping the pain subside. Now, I’ve even become friends with some of the nurses outside of the hospital. If I had a question, the doctors explained the answer to me. Dr. Worley took my family under his wing. Even if he was off duty, he would keep my family updated. I couldn’t imagine much better care from anybody than what I got.”
Two weeks after his discharge, Gragg returned to the ICU to thank his care team in person.
“When I was in the ICU, it was bad,” Gragg said. “There is death around you and they’re dealing with it daily. If I can show them a success story, I wanted to go back. They’re all just miracle workers. I enjoy telling my story to other people and that’s because of them. It’s part of my life now.”
Gragg’s recovery also allowed him to attend and walk his daughter down the aisle in her October wedding.
“I told Dr. Worley I’ve got to be there,” Gragg said. “I’m forever thankful that I am able to be there.”