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A year later, California E.R. nurse makes remarkable recovery from COVID

In January 2021, a Sharp Chula Vista E.R. nurse spent 86 days in the hospital. A year later he still needs oxygen assistance but is grateful to be alive.

BONITA, Calif. — A South Bay E.R. nurse who was hospitalized with COVID for nearly three months in 2021 has made an amazing recovery.

Danny Plata, 39, was hospitalized with COVID on January 11, 2021, and was put on a ventilator five days later. He spent 86 days in the hospital, 65 days on ECMO that pumps oxygen in your blood to give your heart a rest and 45 days on a ventilator.

“Even though I'm oxygen-dependent, to be able to progress  - it's been longer than expected but it's definitely been a lot better than we thought it was going to be,” said Plata.

Plata went from a medically induced coma a year ago to sitting outside a Bonita Starbucks without oxygen assistance for an interview with CBS 8. 

“It's been a long year but glad I'm here,” said Plata.

Doctors say the Sharp Chula Vista E.R. nurse made a miraculous recovery from COVID-19.

“Doctors thought it would take 18 months to walk but I beat those odds and took me 10 days,” said Plata

The recovery for the father of two children hasn't been easy.

“I have neuropathic pain. I have joint pain like arthritic pain,” said Plata.

From joint pain to losing his hair, psych issues, the long haul effects haven't stopped Danny's outlook on life.

“I can't go for long walks, I can't go swimming, the little things. It's a good tradeoff for being alive,” said Plata.

Scar tissue in his lungs will probably never go away and neither will his raspy voice from being on a ventilator for so long.

“It did give me a sexy voice I didn't have before,” said Plata.  

He is still suffering from brain fog and has not been able to return to work.

“I miss the people. I miss the ability to help people on the worse day of their lives,” said Plata.

The E.R. nurse is aware of the controversy around vaccines but he believes that's what saved his life.

“I think it's the main reason why I'm still here. I had a little bit of immunity even though I most likely contracted COVID in between vaccines. I think it helped a little bit,” said Plata.

He said the support from his family, girlfriend, work and friends is what helped him recover. In the past year, Plata has been recognized by the Padres and on Monday he celebrated his son's 12th birthday, a day he missed last year while he was hospitalized.

“I never thought I would see my kids' birthdays,” said Plata.

Now he sees life in a new lens, his right arm is tattooed with a clock from a dream he would have about his son while in the ICU, his girlfriend’s name next to the words "on borrowed time,” "Club 212" from what the nurses called his room and roses on his shoulder.

“A new birth, a second chance I was born a new man,” said Plata.

He said he expects the long-haul effects to last a lifetime and with COVID research still new, he doesn’t know his life expectancy but says that is not stopping him from living his life to the fullest.

WATCH RELATED: Chula Vista E.R. nurse hospitalized with COVID released from hospital - April 5, 2021