Throughout the pandemic, New Yorkers who beat COVID-19 have been leaving hospitals to cheers, applause and music.

For Anthony McKay, it's a moment he won’t forget.

What You Need To Know

  • Staten Island paramedic Anthony McKay was working 16-hour shifts, responding to as many as four deaths a day, but in early April, he went from treating patients to becoming a patient

  • McKay developed serious symptoms. Hoping to avoid putting him on a ventilator, doctors tried continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP

  • McKay responded well to the machine, and after 22 days in the hospital, he was discharged to the sound of bagpipes and cheers from a crowd of hospital workers and his family members

  • McKay has returned to work and says he feels almost 100%, but does get winded easily. A scar on his nose from the CPAP machine is a battle scar of the virus

"It was just overwhelming seeing my wife and my daughters. When they came up and hugged me. I broke down crying. I was just happy to be going home and happy that I was eventually going to be OK," he said.

McKay was working 16-hour shifts as a paramedic during the early stages of the pandemic, responding to as many as four deaths a day.

But in late March, he became the COVID-19 patient, admitted to Richmond University Medical Center with pneumonia in both lungs. 

When he could no longer breathe on his own, doctors put him on continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP, a last resort to avoid hooking him up to a ventilator. They told his wife he might not make it.

"Everybody that was as sick as I was was dying, and it was sobering to see that in other people, and to be that sick, just thinking, I don’t know if I’m going to make it out of here," he said.

But on May 8, after a 22-day fight, McKay left the hospital grateful for the medical team that saved his life. 

Today, he’s back at work helping to save the lives of others.

McCay says he’s almost at 100%, except for feeling winded now and then and a scar on his nose from the mask he wore.

He considers it a small price to pay for having his life back.