Local family shares 89-year-old man’s miraculous recovery from COVID-19

FAYETTE CO., Pa. — All the negative coronavirus news can get overwhelming, but the daughter of a Fayette County man wants everyone to know there is hope for COVID-19 patients – even when it seems so dire.

Jim Toth, 89, has been married to his wife, Mary Ellen, for almost 60 years and was active for his age. He was living independently just three weeks ago when he started to get a fever.

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His daughter, Cathy, told Channel 11 within days of that, he was admitted to Frick Hospital, where he tested positive for COVID-19 and his health began to decline.

“We weren’t sure what was gonna happen or when we would see him or talk with him again,” Cathy said.

Unfortunately, his condition got worse. Toth was placed on a ventilator, and the hospital prepared his family for him to die. The staff allowed Cathy -- in full protective gear -- to visit her dad for what they thought was one last time.

Until a few days later, when he miraculously started to recover.

Toth was taken off the ventilator, able to breathe on his own again.

“(I’m) so very grateful that he’s having another chance. My biggest fear was him dying alone and my mother not being able to say goodbye,” said Cathy.

Toth tested negative for coronavirus on Wednesday, and now he needs another negative result within 24 hours to be able to go to a rehab facility nearby. His family is hoping that will happen sometime this week.

By sharing her family’s story, Cathy is also hoping to raise awareness about efforts to discover a vaccine to fight COVID-19. She is a supporter of the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, which is among those working to develop a coronavirus vaccine.