'Miracle' 18-year-old COVID survivor thanks UK Healthcare team

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Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 24, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After a long battle with COVID-19 that almost took his life, 18-year-old Brandon Vaughn walked one slow step at a time to thank the Kentucky Children’s Hospital staff that helped save his life.

Brandon Vaughn tested positive for COVID-19 on October 30th. After going to a local clinic in McCreary County, then a hospital in Corbin, he was flown to the Kentucky Children's hospital where he stayed until February 10. Soon his kidneys failed, and he was on the transplant list for that and a new lung. However, doctors decided he was too weak to go through the procedure.

"I remember having bad dreams, that's for sure. Bad dreams that I was dying," said Vaughn. “I was fighting for my life. Never thought I'd walk again."

But over time, he got better. He moved from Kentucky Children’s straight to a rehab center in Louisville to learn to walk again.

On Thursday when he was released, he wanted his first taste of freedom to be returning to thank the team who helped him.

"I told 'em, I said 'Mom I gotta go show 'em what I can do'. Mom said 'Alright,'” said Vaughn.

As he walked up to the team of doctors, nurses and specialists, there were tears in many eyes.

"When he left the hospital, he left in a wheelchair,” said Child Specialist Sarah McAlister. “To see him actually get up and walk with just the assistance of a cane was incredible."

His doctors said Vaughn nearly died multiple times. Yet his odds didn't stop the team.

"Every day, I would come in and tell him a joke and sometimes I would get an eye roll, sometimes I would get a smile,” laughed McAlister.

His odds didn't stop his mom Pansy either, who asked the community for support and prayed every day for a miracle.

"I see him now and he can stand on his own and walk on his own. God sure is a miracle worker,” said Pansy.

Vaughn says it was tough, but he knew he had to fight for what he wanted, which he says was to see his dog and his brother again.

"I didn't want to give up. I knew what I wanted to do and that was walk and talk again,” said Vaughn.