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COVID survivor spending Thanksgiving in hospital, thankful to be alive

"To be alive. To be with my family. I'm okay. I know it's a hard recovery, but I'm going to get through it."

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — The pandemic has changed this Thanksgiving in some way for all of us. Many are away from family, those who have lost loved ones are spending the first holiday without them, and many survivors are thankful to be alive.

"We're just happy to be able to be together, at least today," said Birdy Lara.

You wouldn't plan to spend Thanksgiving day in a hospital room, but for Robert and Birdy Lara, it's just a reminder of how thankful they truly are. 

"I'm grateful that he survived, everything he's been through, no one expected him to survive," Birdy Lara said.

Robert Lara of Harvey spent 85 days on a ventilator battling COVID-19. He finally went home September 9, but only briefly.
The disease hit him so aggressively that he needs new lungs. He's now in a hospital in Gainesville waiting on a lung transplant.

"It's a blessing because I get to be with him.  I can stay overnight and be with him and to me that's the biggest blessing and to be able to be with him and push him with therapy and let him know he's not alone," Birdy Lara said. 

On days like this, they remember how far they've come. When asked what he was thankful for, Robert Lara's answer was simple.

"To be alive. To be with my family. I'm okay. I know it's a hard recovery, but I'm going to get through it," he said.

While a hospital holiday may not be ideal, with his wife, his son, and even quick visit from his pet dog, it's a blessing for this family.

"I mean he's going to get Thanksgiving from a cafeteria today," Birdy Lara laughed. "We're going to order whoever has food available on Doordash." 

They have a message for others who are currently fighting these battles.

"Just don't give up on your loved one and take it day by day. That's what we do everyday, take it day by day," Birdy Lara said.

Now as Christmas approaches, they have one thing on their list."

He might get Christmas lungs," Birdy Lara said. 

The Lara family has a Go Fund Me account to help with their expenses for treatment in Gainesville.

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