Some Families Celebrate Father's Day With Greater Appreciation After Year Of COVID-19

Friday, June 18th 2021, 1:02 pm
By: CBS News

This weekend, families all over the country will celebrate dad. This year, the day has extra meaning for some.

Jeff Sweat's family isn’t taking their time together for granted after his battle with COVID-19.

“I woke up and I was so short of breath that I couldn’t walk across the hall,” he said.

In February, the 49-year-old’s wife, Sunny, rushed him to UCLA Medical Center.

“I circled for about an hour, just thinking, 'Oh, I’m just gonna pick him up again,'” she said.

But Jeff Sweat had an acute case of COVID-19, and doctors decided his best chance for survival would be to put him in a medically induced coma.

Alone in the ICU, he said goodbye to his family over Zoom, telling them, "I just wanted you guys to know how much I love you.”

Every time he spoke, his oxygen levels got so low hospital alarms went off.

“I thought this was gonna be the last time I was ever gonna talk to him,” Sweats' son Jackson said.

"They told me I would probably be under for two to three days, and then I woke up three weeks later,” Jeff Sweat said.

It was another month before Jeff Sweat left the hospital.

Doctors have since diagnosed the entire family with post-intensive care syndrome, which is similar to PTSD.

“Oh, I broke down. I broke down every single day,” Sunny Sweat said.

Even now, she says she panics when Jeff Sweat leaves the house. They know it will be a while before they can trust this new reality.

"I think we don’t take for granted being together anymore,” Jeff Sweat said.

These days, Jeff Sweat celebrates life. With his lung capacity at 60%, he’s back mountain biking.

"We came so close to losing him, so I think we should take keeping him as a gift,” said Charlie, one of the Sweats' three children.

A gift this family will cherish this Father's Day and beyond.

Jeff Sweat is an author and writing a book about his near-death experience titled, “From COVID, with Love.”