"Miracle Larry" Kelly is home.
After 128 days in the hospital — including 51 on a ventilator — the 64-year-old New Yorker is a coronavirus survivor.
"I was one of the early cases. And in many ways I was a Guinea pig because they knew nothing about it. So, they threw everything at me," Kelly told CNN's Brianna Keilar during a live interview.
Kelly's early prognosis was so grim that doctors suggested he be taken off of life support, and family members had begun to pay their last respects. But Kelly had other ideas.
"The last text message I sent to my wife right before I was vented, I said I promise I'll never stop fighting. I kept that promise," he said.
As Kelly battled for four months, fighting a virus that to date has claimed the lives of more than 140,000 Americans, one mid-April Sunday offered a sliver of hope.
"I open my eyes on Easter Sunday, which is why I believe the moniker 'Miracle Larry' came from. But on Easter Sunday in New York, 527 people died," said Kelly. "So people were dying all around me and I didn't die. And is that a miracle? I don't know."
Further hampering Kelly's fight were complications including a coma, pneumonia in both lungs, and massive bleeding in the brain.
There were "tubes everywhere, EEG (electroencephalogram) on his brain. He looked awful. My sister didn't even want to see him like that," Kelly's daughter Jackie recalled.
Family members took turns recording messages on a mobile phone, playing them in Kelly's ear one by one inside his Mt. Sinai hospital room. Months later, the recordings have taken on a different tone.
"Jackie actually played the phone conversations with the doctors that she had with her crying and them telling them all the gloom and doom," Kelly said. "Jackie and Dawn were getting very upset and they looked over at me and I wasn't. And they were staring at me and I said to them 'well, I know how it ends.'"
Even with a contagious sense of humor, Kelly admits to grim days during his Covid-19 fight.
"I was in a very dark place. And you know, I didn't see any white light but I saw a lot of black and dark and a pit. And I thought I was heading the other direction, which is why I probably survived. I kept thinking let me explain myself."
With family by his side, Kelly credits not only those closest to him — but also those he'd never met — for his remarkable story of survival.
"There's so many commercials on that say we're all in this together. And that's the only message I can give people. I was a stranger to those people at Mt. Sinai and they worked tirelessly to keep me alive," Kelly said, before adding a word of caution to those still doubting the severity of Covid-19.
"This disease is no joke. And if there's anybody out there thinking it's a big hoax, I'm so glad my family and a lot of my friends who know me, are following protocol because I don't want to lose any of them."
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that Larry Kelly spent 51 days on a ventilator in a hospital.