CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Erik Leach is called a "miracle patient."
There were times doctors were afraid he would not survive. On Tuesday, he came back to Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden to thank the staff for all of their hard work.
Cheers of applause echoed through the hallways from the medical staff who saved Leach.
He was greeted with hugs as he returned as a survivor.
Leach spent two and a half months in the hospital after a massive heart attack on New Year's eve.
The large artery blockage known as the "widow maker" was then followed by complications with bleeding in his airways.
Through it all, the medical staff was there.
"I couldn't resist hugging them. That's the biggest expression I could give them -- a hug. I couldn't hug them while I was here," said Leach.
Leach also saved a hug for a former patient he reunited with -- Frank Talarico Jr.
During some of Leach's darkest days, he found inspiration from Talarico -- a healed "miracle patient."
Talarico spent 45 days battling Covid-19 at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes. When he came back to thank the staff, he stopped in Leach's room to spread a message of hope.
"Frank was living proof. There is nothing like living proof," said Leach.
"He kept asking me if I thought he would get better. I said, 'Look at me. I was where you were a little while ago. I'm walking around talking like nothing happened,'" said Talarico.
Four days after meeting Talarico, Leach was healthy enough to leave the hospital for two weeks of in-patient rehab.
Virtua doctors say seeing the survivors' reunification and gratitude helps to keep them going.