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Darnell Davis
Last year, Baltimore real estate agent Darnell Davis, 56, was hospitalized for 31 days at Shock Trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center where he nearly succumbed to COVID-19. (Above) Darnell Davis enjoying the outdoors. Photo Credit: Ursula V. Battle

Part II of a two-part series about Darnell Davis

At 56-years-of age, Darnell Davis looks like a picture of health. But a little over a year ago, he was in the fight of his life. Nearly succumbing to COVID-19 during his hospitalization last year, Davis spent 31 days in Shock Trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center. A real estate agent, Davis now has a new “lease” on life.

“Other people who were in my situation are dead,” said Davis. “According to my doctors, I had one of their worst cases of COVID. But I made it through and have no COVID-19 complications or after-effects. Going through COVID really changed my life. Everyone is telling me what happened. I was in a coma. I just knew I was going home.”

“Having COVID taught me about will and self-confidence. According to my family, my Prayer Circle was huge. Prayer is important. My personal journey has been transformative. The world looks different to me now. My perspective is different. My empathy is off the charts. I’m a grown man, but I cry when I’m happy and I cry when I’m sad. I am different and I like the new me.”

Davis was originally admitted to Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) after being diagnosed with COVID-19. On April 30, 2020, he was transferred to Shock Trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center where he was placed on advanced life support – ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, for 17 days, with a heart-lung machine doing the work of his lungs to provide oxygen to his body. Davis also went into acute renal failure and was assisted by another lifesaving machine to help filter his blood and temporarily replacing his kidneys.

“Everything I did while I was in the hospital, I did to make it home,” said Davis. “I remember laying in the ICU and doing what I had to do to get home. It was a sense of surviving. I really did not understand how sick I was. Being rolled from the hospital lobby to my wife’s car was affirmation of my determination.”

Davis was recognized at the 31st annual R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Celebration of Heroes. More than 65 first responders and top trauma medicine  professionals who saved the lives of Davis and Trooper Graham King of the Maryland State Police barrack in Princess Anne were honored. Trooper King sustained a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures when his police SUV, was struck head on by a car that crossed the centerline in early May 2020.

Trooper King was transported to Shock Trauma by Maryland State Police medevac helicopter on May 15, 2020, after the crash on Route 513 in Fruitland, which injured him and another state trooper.

Davis’ story and Trooper King’s story were shared during the “Celebration of Heroes” gala held in April. Davis has four daughters and five grandchildren. He and his wife, Daven Spencer Davis, are graduates of Morgan State University where they met.

“My wife made tough decisions regarding my life— as difficult as those decisions might have been,” said Davis who has received the COVID-19 vaccine and is on a crusade encouraging others to do the same. “She did a good job managing a family crisis. She’s also a hero.”

Laura S. Buchanan, MD, an Assistant Professor, Trauma/Surgical Critical Care, and a faculty member of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center of the University of Maryland, was among the doctors who treated Davis.

“I got to take care of Mr. Davis during his first week,” said Dr. Buchanan. “It was so important to have a win like Mr. Davis.’ When he was in the hospital ill, it was early into the pandemic. We knew COVID was dangerous, and people voluntarily put themselves in unknown risks taking care of our COVID patients. It was important to have patients like Mr. Davis who were getting better.

They were giving so much back to us emotionally.” Jessica Bradford was among Mr. Davis’ nurses. “Mr. Davis represents resilience,” said Bradford. “He represents so much for trauma, the State of Maryland and the fight against COVID-19. The world has been in a fight against COVID for over a year. Mr. Davis represents what it is to fight. We as a team could not be happier that he survived and is doing so well. He also represents the hard work of nurses, doctors, therapists and others. He is a symbol of why we do what we do.”


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