Kids & Family

Watch What Happens After 158 Days In The ICU

This young rabbi has been fighting for his life since March when he contracted the coronavirus. Wait until you see the joyful video when he finally gets to leave the hospital!


It's not often that you hear singing and see people dancing in the halls of a hospital, but this was a special occasion.

Rabbi Yehuda "Yudi" Dukes spent more than five months in intensive care because of complications from the coronavirus. He was finally released from the hospital last Friday, one of the longest hospitalized Covid patients in the U.S. The rabbi has endured severe after effects from the virus, including double lung failure, pancreatitis, stroke, and dangerous blood clots. For much of his hospital stay, he was in a medically induced coma.

So, when the 38-year-old father of six from Long Island, NY was finally able to transfer from the ICU to a nearby rehab facility, the hospital staff and Dukes' family couldn't help but celebrate the milestone.

Rabbi "Yudi" (pictured on the right with his wife and six children) has hospitalized since March due to Covid-19. Sarah Spangenthal Dukes/Facebook

A video taken by an onlooker shows Dukes being wheeled down the hallway in his hospital bed as guests sang a traditional Jewish religious tune, called a "nigun." The staff clapped and waved goodbye as Dukes made his way out of the unit – hopefully for the last time.

video c/o Sarah Spangenthal Dukes

In a Facebook post, Dukes' wife Sarah Spangenthal Dukes called his recovery "a true miracle."

"For SO LONG we have been DREAMING of getting to this point in Yudi's recovery where the doctors could even start talking about rehab- AND IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!!! she wrote. "I am so proud of my husband's perseverance, determination and commitment, and I consider it to be the biggest honor to be his wife!"

Dukes' wife Sarah has been by his side through his recovery. He calls her "the hero of this saga."Sarah Spangenthal Dukes/Facebook

Now that Dukes has recovered enough to leave the ICU, he'll be getting aggressive physical therapy, occupational and swallow therapy to help strengthen his body and motor functions. His wife admitted they experienced some "separation anxiety" when they learned they would be leaving the hospital staff who had cared for him for so long, but they were eager to start the next part of his journey to recovery.

As for Rabbi Dukes, he says his faith never left him as he struggled to fight the virus, and he says he's indebted to the doctors and caring staff who helped give him a second lease on life.

The rabbi's hospital room was full of photos of his family and prayers and cards from people all over the country. Sarah Spangenthal Dukes/Facebook

"As I learn to live again, I am like a baby discovering the joys of life once again," Dukes said in an interview with Chabad.org. "The taste of water on my parched tongue, the sensation of moving—these are all new things that I get to appreciate once again."

Along with being a rabbi, Dukes is the director of JNet, a network that connects people for weekly sessions of Torah study over the phone.

When he was released from the hospital, the rabbi's guests sang a celebratory Jewish hymn and danced in the hallways. Sarah Spangenthal Dukes/Facebook

In his interview Dukes says he's most looking forward to being back with his family, and he hopes to maintain the positive attitude he adopted during his hospital stay.

"Instead of spreading a virus, I can spread goodness," he said.

How can you start something good?

You can help with the costs of Rabbi "Yudi" Dukes' medical care and recovery by making a donation here.


Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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