COVID-19 survivor’s emotional homecoming

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 9:21 PM CDT
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - It was an emotional, long-awaited homecoming that happened in Neshoba County Friday. Chris Kiepe a husband, father and grandfather-- is home with his loved ones after battling COVID-19 for more than 170 days.

Kiepe was on a ventilator for weeks. He was in a coma for two months and had seven near death experiences.

He is now home with his family, thankful to be alive.

“I’m feeling awesome because I’ve been shut up for the last 171 days,” Kiepe said. “I felt like the walls were closing in on me.”

Kiepe took his first steps outside the hospital walls since testing positive for COVID in November.

“Well, it’s amazing that they said seven times that I wouldn’t make it.” Kiepe said, “They called my family in for them to say goodbye. But the Lord had something different for me. He wanted me to live. He sustained me and gave me the strength. I’m just excited about life and moving on now.”

Kiepe’s wife, Rachel Kiepe says she’s never lived on her own. For six months, she was forced to live life without him.

“A lot of tears a lot of nights. When he got better, I called him a few nights and told him about what a rough time I was having with him not being here.” Kiepe said, “We’ve been together for 45 years. So, we’ve just been together forever.”

While in the hospital, Kiepe was concerned about finishing a remodeling project he started at the family home. Together, family and friends picked up where he left off.

“I want to thank my daughter Annaliese because she has worked tirelessly for the last ten weeks.” Kiepe said, “With decorating and I know her husband was getting tired of her leaving so much.”

Annaliese Johnson, Kiepe’s daughter says it has been exciting preparing a heartwarming welcome for her dad.

“Just to create my own vision for how I felt like my dad would most enjoy the house and make it accessible for him when moving from room to room.” Johnson said, “Especially, as he’s still gaining his strength back.”

Kiepe says he has surgery in June to remove his gallbladder after it busted in January.

Kiepe is expected to fully recover from his COVID-19 battle.

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