ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Barbara Noll remembers well the February day her friend Deanna Hair sat patiently, keeping her company during her first daylong chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor.

“You can walk around or something,” Noll told her friend. “Get a snack.”

“Oh no, I’m fine here,” replied Hair, settling in with her book and staying close, chatting with nurses until late in the afternoon.

It was a long day. But Hair and Noll now really know the meaning of a long hospital stay. Six weeks later, Hair came back to Michigan Medicine, this time herself fighting a new disease upending the world. 

On  Oct. 15th, 2020, Deanna Hair is discharged from the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. with help from her husband, Ken Hair, who pushes her in a wheelchair after being there for 196 days battling COVID-19.

Hair finally left there Thursday, after 196 days of hospitalization for COVID-19.

“My life is forever changed because of this experience,” Hair said in a statement to USA TODAY, “physically, mentally and emotionally.”

The 67-year-old Ann Arbor resident and her husband began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after a trip to Palm Springs, California. Both tested positive on March 31. While her husband’s symptoms were mild, Hair developed a fever and cough, and four days later began vomiting.

Deanna Hair embraces her husband Ken Hair as he whispers "You made it" placing her in the car after being discharged from the University of Michigan hospital battling COVID-19 for 196 days on Oct. 15, 2020.

On April 3, she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with ischemic colitis, also known as dead gut, caused by reduced blood flow to her large intestine from COVID-19.

Doctors prepared Hair for emergency surgery the following day.

Diane Flucht, a friend of Hair’s for more than 15 years was shocked. She’d seen her four days earlier on their Zoom book club call, the same day Hair tested positive.

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