(Left) Ken Sambor returns home from the hospital. (Right) Ken cuddles with his three grandsons prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID survivor gives back to health care heroes

May 28, 2020

Sometimes, words alone can’t express our gratitude.

That’s how Ken Sambor feels after surviving COVID-19.

The 73-year-old father, grandfather and curling coach from Bismarck, N.D., spent 29 days in the Sanford ICU battling the illness. During that time, he underwent emergency surgery for internal bleeding and relied on a ventilator for 11 days.

“I am alive only because of the medical expertise of the team of doctors at Sanford and the care I received from the nurse angels and many others who work in the COVID ICU,” Ken told us.

Today, he’s showing his gratitude by sharing his story and giving what he can to make sure those angels stay safe, strong and prepared to continue saving lives.

Road to recovery

Ken’s illness started with flu-like symptoms. He couldn’t get out of bed, and after four days, his family decided to take him to the hospital. Once Ken was admitted to the COVID floor, his wife, daughters and grandchildren couldn’t visit him in the hospital for their own safety and the safety of others.

The next month was a blur as Ken battled the disease. There were times when he thought he wasn’t going to make it, even calling his wife and daughters to say good-bye.

“While I tried to stay alive and regain my life, my family just kept constant vigil,” Ken said. “The suffering and trauma is still there for them.”

Not only did Ken’s caregivers fight to make him healthy, they formed a support system when his family could not, trying to keep his spirits up and helping him video chat with his wife, daughters and grandchildren.

“I realize they all risked their lives every time they came into my room,” Ken said. “And they did, day after day, sometimes just to try to make me more comfortable. These are not just angels, they are brave heroes.”

Ken’s friends and family celebrated his homecoming with a drive-by party outside his Bismarck home.

Today, Ken is still recovering, but he’s confident he’ll get back to doing the things he loves.

“I will fish again,” said Ken who has been struggling with muscle weakness in his legs. “I may even hit a golf ball, and of course, I’ll still coach curling.”

Giving back

To celebrate his heroes, Ken made a Guardian Angel gift in their names to the Sanford Health Foundation. He’s also taken to social media, encouraging others to empower the lifesaving work happening at Sanford today.

So far, he’s raised more than $3,000 for the Emerging Threats Fund. 100% will support areas of greatest need like enhanced training, personal protective equipment, innovative methods of health care delivery and more.

Join Ken in supporting our health care heroes with a donation today.