MONTREAL -- Everyone who knows Peter Scoufaras would agree he's generally in great shape. At 65, he skis, cycles and kayaks. He played golf 100 times last summer. He also had no chronic health conditions.

Yet when he contracted COVID-19 last year, it almost killed him.

In late December of 2020, when Scoufaras was diagnosed with the virus, his health went into a downward spiral very quickly. Within days of being admitted to the Cité de la Santé Hospital in Laval, he was on a ventilator and fighting for his life.

“Things were really looking very bad. Very, very bad," he said recently.

He was only able to start describing his experience relatively recently, because that's how long it took to get him well enough to do so. He was on a ventilator for a full month and just finally left the hospital -- in a wheelchair.

"You're at 5 per cent... you've got nothing left," he recalls being told when he first entered physiotherapy.

He had never realized the toll COVID-19 could take. He worked hard at physiotherapy and his doctor was impressed with the speed of his progress, but he was still hospitalized for the entire winter.

It's unusual, in fact, that Scoufaras even stayed on a ventilator for a month to start with, said his doctor. Normally, hope would be lost before that.

“We were doing it a month after he first came in and was admitted to the ICU, which is way longer than we would for any other conditions, with very little hope that it would be successful," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an ICU specialist at Cité de la Santé.

"But there were signs showing some improvement,” says Dahine.

“Basically, our hope is that we would buy his body as much time as possible for him to start recovering,” he said, and that’s what happened.

Scoufaras still isn't back to normal, but he said he's determined to be in shape to at least play golf this summer -- and to play with his grandkids.

He was unconscious for that entire month on the ventilator, but for his family, it was "the hardest thing we ever had to deal with," said his daughter, Elizabeth Scoufaras.

Now, despite his long recovery still to come, Scoufaras and his family say they feel like they have an unexpected blessing, and they want to join the ranks of people warning others not to be complacent.

"It was a miracle that I made it," said Scoufaras. "Snd I'm very happy that I'm able to give this story so people will believe this is real.” 

Watch the video above for the full television report by Christine Long.