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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — On September 22, 2021, Juan Mancera tested positive for COVID-19.

He told FOX8 he felt sick for a week and struggled to breathe.

On Sept. 30, he went to Cone health where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and later sent home.

Juan’s breathing got worse.

On Oct. 2, he was admitted to the hospital. Doctors could not help him fight the infection with antibodies because his oxygen was too low.

At over 200 pounds, all this father of five could do was lie in a hospital bed and pray he would get better.

His family was not allowed to visit. It was weeks before they could do a video chat with him.

“The last thing I remember was I was out of breath. I cannot breathe and I remember I was pushing the button beside my bed,” said Mancera.

Juan’s lungs collapsed during his two and half month hospital stay, he spent a lot of time on a ventilator and had tubes placed in his chest to help with his breathing.

“It was a really bad experience. I never thought COVID was going to do that to me,” said Mancera.

The 42-year-old lost 50 pounds in a month and doctors were not optimistic he would survive.

“They told me he was not going to make it,” said Juan’s wife Veronica.

“You know that’s really hard, but not only me my whole family who went through all this together with me,” said Mancera.

Doctors told Juan’s wife, Veronica if her husband survived, he would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life.

Veronica got a prayer chain started and relied on God, her church family, and nurses to give her strength as she watched her husband struggle.

Then a miracle happened.

Juan’s health improved, he started breathing on his own and got out of the hospital in time to celebrate Christmas with his family. “I believe in miracles, and this is a big one for me. Keep me alive breathing with my big two lungs because I got two new lungs,” he said.

Juan looked healthy when we sat down with him on the afternoon of Dec. 29 and was in good spirits.

“I feel fantastic. Feel great,” said Mancera. When he speaks you can hear the struggle and how winded he gets even when talking for a bit.

That’s not stopping his progress.

Juan is walking on his own and did his first outdoor exercise on Tuesday, walking half a mile.

He told FOX8 his wife is his motivator and rock through his recovery. He thanks God that he could be with her for Christmas. “Christmas was the greatest gift that God give to me,” said Mancera.

His wife feels just as fortunate.

“For him to be here next to me and to be us on Christmas was just a miracle and a gift from God,” said Veronica.

“He has his bad days where he gets a lot of anxiety, and he gets depressed, but he jumps right out of it the next day,” said Veronica.

This couple knows things could have ended differently. “Thank God, thank God every single day for giving us another chance,” said Veronica.

One shot could have changed their story. “If you got the chance, don’t take the risk. Get vaccinated because this thing is real,” said Juan.

Juan plans to get vaccinated next month.

He still needs to see a pulmonary specialist to know if there’s any long-term damage to his lungs.

As for New Year’s, this couple will spend a quiet home at night thankful to ring in 2022 together.

When the time is right they want to go visit Juan’s family in Mexico.