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Bismarck man’s COVID-19 survival story

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Ken Sambor was in for a surprise as two of the nurses who helped him battle the coronavirus paid him a visit.

Sambor was one of the first North Dakotans to contract COVID-19.

He, along with 16 others, tested positive after attending the National Championship Curling tournament in Maryland.

“I actually started getting symptomatic the night before we left. On the 17th on the plane ride home, I was coughing and starting to ooze. You know a lot of people were dry, I was oozing and coughing on the airplane,” shared Sambor.

Sambor who falls into the vulnerable category of patients because of his age had an extensive stay at Sanford Health.

“I don’t know where they got the statistic, but you’re less than a five percent chance of surviving if you’re a 73-year-old guy and you go on a ventilator. I’m a miracle survivor,” shared Sambor.

His battle with the coronavirus was a roller coaster ride he never expected.

Sambor shares that he was on a ventilator for 11 days and had 800 milliliters of fluid drained from his lungs.

But he said it was the attentive staff at Sanford that saved his life.

“I strongly believe if I had been in a Minneapolis or New York situation that given my situation I would’ve been triaged and probably just made comfortable, and let go. So everybody who sacrificed, in my opinion, played a role in saving my life,” shared Sambor.

He was released from the hospital on April 14 but he made a lasting impression, so much so that two of the many nurses came to his home for a reunion.

“You really form some amazing bonds and relationships with them. You’re not just in there being their nurse. You’re kind of that lifeline for them because they don’t get to have their families and their friends. You’re just there for emotional support,” shared Sanford Registered Nurse Mandie Haman.

Sambor bonded with both nurses in his own way.

And while they have encountered many patients, they say Sambor left an everlasting impression.

“He then told me about John Prine, who was one of his favorite singers that actually passed away from COVID as well. And he got a little emotional and I’ve never heard of John Prine. So he actually had his iPhone on the bedside table and he asked me to grab it and we YouTube one of his songs. And he sang in spite of ourselves to me. And it was just so touching,” shared Sanford CNA Julie Hagen.

“We had a connection with ken so it’s just really nice to be able to come here and see him again,” shared Haman.

Both nurses shared that Sambor would ask them to write their names on the outside of their personal protective equipment so he could know who they were.

As of today, Sanford says only one patient is left on the COVID-19 floor in its Bismarck location.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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