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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

After beating COVID-19, Brownsburg firefighter works to go home, hug his family, and get back to work

A big, fun-loving father trained to rescue people from burning buildings gets winded just brushing his teeth after contracting coronavirus.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WTHR) - COVID-19 nearly killed Brownsburg firefighter Kevin Byron.

He survived and isn't sure why. Byron now likely faces months of rehab and recovery.

A big, fun-loving father trained to rescue people from burning buildings gets winded just brushing his teeth.

“Kevin is doing OK,” he said from his room in a rehabilitation facility. “Kevin is glad to be alive, but is also very tired.”

We first saw Kevin Byron smiling last week after he finished two weeks on a ventilator near death. He left the hospital Monday to the applause of friends, health care workers and, of course, his wife, Becky.

“I couldn’t believe it was all for me, it was,” he said in an emotion-filled voice. “Honestly, to see all those people, so many that I know was overwhelming. I was glad to see my wife.”

They hadn’t seen each other for a month.

Do you remember how sick you were?

“No, no,” he said, shaking his head.

The COVID-19 virus targeted Byron’s heart, lungs and kidneys. He remembers asking a nurse, “Why am I still here? You know why am I still breathing?"

"One of the nurses said 'God isn’t done with you yet,'" he explained.

Byron is a big guy. A dad who roughhoused with his two kids, a firefighter and a member of the elite Task Force 1 rescue team is 75 pounds lighter. He gets exhausted just relearning how to walk.

“It’s humbling, it really is. You are used to doing big, bad things.” Byron said. “Now I am winded brushing my teeth.”

Byron probably has months of physical therapy and recovery ahead of him.

What is the most important thing right now?

“Getting back to my family. Holding my wife, holding my kids, holding my dog,” he said.

Byron praised his nurses and other health care workers for putting their lives on the line. If there is ever a statue erected to honor the heroes in the war against COVID-19, Byron said they will have ponytails, N95 masks and hospital scrubs.