Savannah man says he’s grateful to have survived nearly fatal COVID-19, sepsis infections


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — “The beginning was serious, and I knew that I was going to die,” said Boyd Holt, whose body is still recuperating from his brush with death. “I had very little capacity to breathe.”

Holt says he’s not sure how or when he became infected with COVID-19, which he tested positive for in late June.

He shares that he took every precaution possible but still caught the virus.

“I thought I was going to die of Lysol and bleach inhalation,” the 60-year-old joked.

“That’s the first thing somebody would say when they walked in my house or office: ‘have you been bleaching?’” he said of his steps to steer clear of the infection that attacked his body. “I felt like I was doing everything right.”

Holt says he initially tried to recover at home for the first 14 days, but then his health took an unexpected turn.

“One day, I left my glass door unlocked and one of my friends came in and said, ‘you have to go [to the hospital],’ and I said, ‘no, I’m fine,’” Holt said.

“The next thing I knew, I was in the room with Dr. [Tim] Connelly, so I probably wasn’t fine!” he laughed.

Connelly was Holt’s primary care physician when he was admitted to Memorial Health.

He quickly diagnosed Holt with sepsis.

“He knew what was going on before any tests even came back, which was amazing to me,” Holt said.

While Holt is now able to speak lightheartedly about his experience as he slowly gets better, his fight against both COVID-19 and sepsis simultaneously was no laughing matter. 

Sepsis is a life-threatening emergency that happens during the body’s extreme response to an infection like the coronavirus.

September marks Sepsis Awareness Month, and Connelly says it’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

“It’s something people don’t have to die of, it’s all about timing,” Connelly said. “When people start shaking, getting chills, I mean literally, the clock is counting, and the sooner you get to the hospital, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome.”

He says the illness can start with something as seemingly small as cutting one’s finger.

“Most people have an immune system, or the cut’s not so bad that it just heals on its own,” Connelly said.

“But sometimes that infection is either too aggressive of a bug, or perhaps your immune system was fighting a virus, or it’s weakened,” he added.

The medical expert says Holt had blood clots in both of his lungs. 

“It’s not unusual for people with COVID-19 to develop these about two to three weeks after getting the virus,” Connelly said, who shared that Holt’s body was fighting off a superinfection while he also battled pneumonia.

“Looking at the x-ray and the CT scan, we could see the heavy burden from the COVID-19, but I could also see that there was different shades, and some of that was some infection on top of that, but then you could also see the large blood clots,” the physician shared.

Holt says during the height of his illness, inhaling air into his lungs was no easy feat.

“It felt like you had a ton of bricks on you and you could just barely breathe,” he recalled. 

After spending two weeks at Memorial Health under the care of Connelly, Holt’s condition continues to improve.

However, his oxygen tank follows him wherever he goes. Holt says his lungs are doing 75% better these days.

He also says it doesn’t take long before he feels low on energy.

“I do well for about two hours,” he said. “I’m not sleepy, it’s just the body’s tired, so then it takes me several hours to regroup.”

Holt says he’s grateful for the treatment he received at Memorial Health and from Connelly.

“If I hadn’t gotten there and gotten with this guy, I would be dead,” he said.

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