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Texas police officer beats COVID-19, marries fiancé in hospital

The couple is back in Palestine, Texas after a five month battle with COVID-19. They share an incredible love story.

PALESTINE, Texas — Valentine's Day is a day dedicated to celebrating love. As a way to celebrate the holiday, one East Texas couple overcame adversity to achieve good health; love; and a triumphant return to normalcy. 

Palestine Police Officer Freddy Nino spent the last five months in the hospital fighting COVID-19, where his wife Michelle was by his side for every step of the way. The couple finally made it home on Feb. 11, after spending the first two months of their marriage in the hospital.

Before spending the beginning of their marriage in the hospital, the couple met in Palestine. They both work for the city, Freddy as a police officer and Michelle as a community liaison. The two public servants share a love for their community.  

"That was a really big part of our bond," said Michelle. 

Their bright personalities and dedication to serving their community is what brought them together, but their love for each other that has kept the bond intact. 

"He had bought an engagement ring and he had been working on asking me, but he wanted everything to be perfect. And I think had already asked my kids if it was okay if he asked me," she said. "The next thing you know, everything happened really fast."

Officer Nino caught COVID-19 in August 2021, and it led him to eventually be hospitalized with COVID Pneumonia.

"The day that the doctor said that there was just no hope that I needed to just, you know, accept the fact that he wasn't gonna make it," said Michelle. "I went home that night and my kids sat with me on the bed and I told my daughter, just go ahead and just let me see the ring because he's not going to propose."

Doctors found a blood clot in one lung and a hole in his right lung. He was in a coma and completely paralyzed. He was admitted to San Antonio's Methodist Hospital, where he was set-up on an ECMO machine and an available bed. 

"He was on a machine for 76 days," she said. "There was a lot more bad than good. For every one good day, there was like two weeks that something would happen and he'd get even sicker."

As Freddy began to recover and regain consciousness, he noticed the ring on Michelle's finger, and the couple began to plan a wedding.

"So next thing, you know, a week later, we have this, I say big fancy wedding because it was and we had our hospital family, which was all the doctors, the surgeons, the nurses, administration, doctors that were off that day, they actually came in just to be there with us, and they made it all happen," she said.

Their marriage in November brought them much-needed joy, which would help motivate Freddy to get better every single day.

"I was just excited," said Freddy Nino. "I mean, you couldn't see my face because I had a mask on but whenever I saw Michelle walk out, you made me tear up, you looked so beautiful."

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death among U.S. law enforcement in 2021, but Officer Nino beat that statistic and is using his second chance at life to enjoy his family and continue to serve his town. 

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