Frontline Worker Who Battled COVID Walks for the First Time in a Year: ‘Grateful to Be Here’

A Louisiana man who battled COVID at the start of the pandemic recently took his first steps in 12 months, bringing full circle a difficult year that saw him fighting against the virus' devastating effects.

Peter Woullard was working as a behavioral health technician at St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling when he tested positive for COVID on March 30, he told NBC affiliate WSDU.

Though Woullard says he was perfectly healthy beforehand, the virus did a number on him, landing him in the hospital about a week later.

"I was working in the emergency room when I contracted the virus. I went to work that morning, I was feeling fine," he told WSDU. "I had a temperature of 96.7 or something like that. By 12 hours later, I had a temperature of 103."

Woullard's hospitalization was just the beginning of his health woes — he was intubated within hours of his arrival, and six days later, he coded as his kidneys failed and his brain bled. Within two weeks, he'd also had a stroke.

"The family was called in to come visit him because they didn't think he was going to make it," his wife Patricia told WSDU.

Woullard was discharged from the hospital in May, but spent the next several months recovering in various medical facilities before he finally came home for good in September, the outlet reported.

Still, Woullard wasn't exactly back to normal — he said that nerve damage from the virus meant he had to learn how to walk, talk and live all over again.

"It was devastating to see my husband [go] from a healthy man working to non-functional," Patricia told WSDU. "That was scary."

After a difficult year, Woullard finally worked toward some good news this month, when he stood up for the very first time since contracting COVID last year.

"To be just standing tall, I'm like 6' 3", almost 6' 4", and just to just look over everything like I used to do, it was just amazing," he said. "I lose my breath… [but] I'm grateful to be here by the grace of god."

Added Patricia: "I'm very happy that god gave me a second chance with my husband. It's a blessing."

The couple is now raising money on GoFundMe to build Woullard a walk-in shower to better accommodate his body's needs as he continues in occupational and physical therapy.

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