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COVID survivor defying the odds

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - A Neshoba County pastor who nearly died while battling the coronavirus is finally on the road to recovery.

Chris Kiepe battled the coronavirus in three different hospitals within the last 168 days.

“I never knew that I was about to die because I was in a coma the first two months,” Kiepe said.

The pastor was in a coma- a ventilator struggled to keep him alive. Doctors prepared the family to say their goodbyes - Kiepe nearly died seven times. Including, on one of his daughters’ birthday.

“One call that sticks out in my head the most was—it was my 30th birthday.” Kiepe’s daughter, Alexis Leone said, “My mom ran into CSpire to come get me and said, ‘We got to leave right now. Daddy is not going to make it.’ And you know, it’s my 30th birthday, I’m thinking it’s supposed to be a good day and thinking your dad isn’t going to make it through the day.”

“The last time they called me to tell me he was going to die I was at work and they said, ‘You got to get here quick, his heart is failing,’ his wife, Rachel Kiepe said. “On the way over to the house I said, ‘God you got to either heal him or take him on. I cannot say goodbye a seventh time.”

Kiepe is improving. He is now in a nursing home at Neshoba General. He is partially paralyzed and can’t see well, but he is getting stronger.

Kiepe is expected to make a full recovery.

“Because of the vast improvement in the last two weeks, I really think that I am going to recover pretty quickly because I have the determination and the hope to get better,” Kiepe said.

Kiepe’s biggest concern is finishing a remodeling project he started at the family home before he got sick. With the financial help of community members, his family and friends took care it.

Rachel said, “My son said, ‘What are you worried about the most? What are the things you are concerned about? What burdens can we take off your heart and your mind?’ And the first thing he said was, ‘I am worried about that house. It is not finished. There are things that just desperately need to be done.’ and Andrew said, ‘Daddy, we will do it.’”

Faith has been important to Kiepe his entire life.

“I have faith that God is going to see me through this and give me the strength,” Kiepe said. “He didn’t allow me to die. One of my favorite scriptures ever since college has been, Philippians chapter one verse six that says, ‘He who began a good work, and you will bring it to completion.’ And I know that the Lord has a lot more for me to do. That is why he allowed me to continue to live and not to die.”

Faith helped Kiepe get through the most difficult time of his life.

If you are looking to support a COVID-19 victim or a caregiver, Chris Kiepe’s wife, Rachel, encourages people to join the Survivor Corps Facebook group. She says the group lets people know they have your thoughts and prayers.

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