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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Bryan Carroll left The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital with his wife on Wednesday after being hospitalized for over a month, according to a Cone Health news release.

Carroll and his wife are now headed back to their home in Providence. At the top of his Christmas list was to hug his two daughters, ages 8 and 5, before the holiday.

Staff from his ICU team and other units involved in his care gathered near the Cone Health Heart & Vascular Center door to cheer Carroll home.

The 44-year-old proudly wore UNC’s blue and white. A huge Carolina basketball fan, Carroll received notes and videos from the UNC family during his time at Cone Health.

While Carroll was in the hospital, he spent 21 days on an ECMO machine (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation). It was the last option for his medical team.

The ECMO device is sort of a miniature heart-lung machine that pumps and oxygenates the blood of patients whose organs are failing.

It took over the work of Carroll’s lungs while his body recovered from the virus. Since Cone Health initiated its ECMO program, the ECMO team has saved the lives of three people with severe cases of COVID-19.

ECMO is typically used to help people recover from certain complex cardio or thoracic surgeries or to keep people alive after major car crashes or other traumas. These devices have been used across the country as a last chance for dying COVID-19 patients.  

Carroll was not vaccinated for COVID-19 when he contracted the virus.

Many of his family and friends have since been inspired to get the shot. He strongly encourages everyone to be vaccinated.

“I’m all for vaccination,” Carroll said. “I’m living proof that your average person can get COVID-19 and almost die from it.”

“We don’t want to see this happen to anybody we know or love,” says Jodie Carroll, Bryan’s wife. “You never think this is going to happen, but it does. We realize we are blessed.”

Carroll said the care he received was exceptional, noting that his care team planned an anniversary dinner for him and his wife on Nov. 16, complete with cupcakes, a happy anniversary banner and a card signed by the care team.

“The team was incredible. The whole ECMO team,” Carroll said. “When I was well enough, they took me outdoors on one nice day to see my girls. They go above and beyond, each one of them.”

“Using ECMO is very intense work for our team,” Cone Health Cardiologist Dan Bensimhon said. “But days like this make it worth it.”