Smithtown pastor shares his COVID story
Doug Jansson hasn’t been home in over six weeks, and his story is being heard all around the world.
Right now, the lead pastor of Living Word Church in Hauppauge is in the Intensive Care Unit at Stony Brook University Hospital, said his wife Kelly Jansson. But the good news is he’s alive and heading toward recovery after a terrifying battle with COVID-19.
On Nov. 30, the Jansson family tested positive for the virus. After 10 days, his wife said, Doug was getting worse so they called an ambulance.
“I got a phone call the day before Christmas Eve that he was declining,” Kelly said, her voice breaking. “They didn’t think he was going to make it.”
Doug, a healthy, athletic 42-year-old father of three from Smithtown, shouldn’t have gotten the virus, she said.
“I think I remember him being sick only a handful of times in the 20 years we’ve been married,” she said. “When we got COVID, he was worried about me — nobody was worried about him getting hit this hard.”
Kelly said the next day he was put on a ventilator. “He was not doing well,” she said. “They weren’t sure if he was going to make it half the day.”
But she said the doctors and nurses at SBUH have been “amazing” toward her husband and family.
“I got a phone call saying they had a plan to save his life,” she said.
Doug spent six days on life support and 13 on a ventilator. Eventually he was moved to the ICU where he sent his wife a text after more than two weeks.
“It was the best day of my life — it was incredible,” she said.
After being in the ICU for not even two days, he began complaining of severe pain. A CT scan revealed a pleural effusion (fluid in the chest), a secondary pneumonia, pleurisy and a small pneumothorax (air in the chest). His right lung collapsed.
Early on in the battle, Kelly — who isn’t on social media herself — decided to update Doug’s Facebook friends on his page, chronicling what was going on inside the hospital walls. His story has been shared hundreds of times thus far.
“That’s Doug’s personality,” she said. “He’s so down-to-earth and real — I knew people would pray for him knowing what was happening.”
And the prayers are working. Throughout his illness, members from Doug’s church made it known they were praying for him.
Early on in the pandemic, Doug organized prayer parades around the hospitals. He held drive-in services to eliminate in-person gatherings. Now, he’s the one receiving prayers.
“I’ve gotten messages from people in other countries saying they’re standing and praying for him,” she said. “Now that Doug is fully awake and reading all these comments on Facebook with such encouraging words, he is so blown away that this was happening.”
Although Doug is still in the ICU, he’s stable. His oxygen levels are gradually going up, his voice is coming back and he can FaceTime with his family and friends from his hospital bed. He said that God was watching out for him these last six weeks, and that all the support from his neighbors and strangers has been emotional for him.
“It’s been incredible,” he said. “All these random people praying for us, believing in us and praying to get me out of here … it literally brings tears to my eyes.”
Doug said he is so thankful for being able to tell his story, especially since he almost lost his life.
“There’s always hope in God,” he said. “During impossible situations, he comes through.”
His wife said it’s not over yet, and he has a long battle ahead of him. “But every day is a step forward, and any step forward is a significant step.”
While his titles are father, pastor, husband and son, Kelly said she has another name for him now.
“There is no doubt this is a miracle — God responded and did something,” she said. “I call him Miracle Man … God did this.”