River Rouge high schooler celebrates surviving COVID-19 after 3 weeks on ventilator

Alijah Cromartie spent final month of high school at rehab center

RIVER ROUGE, Mich. – A senior at River Rouge High School is celebrating more than one type of graduation after he spent three weeks on a ventilator and survived the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Graduation plans for the entire 2020 class have been turned upside down. Alijah Cromartie, 18, thought he would be spending this month finishing his senior year at River Rouge.

Instead, he ended up at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, recovering from COVID-19. Cromartie was discharged Thursday, and RIM staff members wanted to make sure it didn’t go unnoticed.

It wasn’t the graduation he had planned, but Cromartie couldn’t hide his job as the staff celebrated him beating the coronavirus.

“I just want to thank everybody here at RIM who believed in me and wanted me to do as best as I can,” Cromartie said.

After three weeks on a ventilator at Children’s Hospital, Cromartie went to RIM to continue his recovery.

Workers said when he first arrived at the rehab center, it was hard for Cromartie to sit up and talk.

“It’s been a lot, but I’ve made it very far, and I continue to fo farther,” he said. “I’m very proud of myself and everything I’ve accomplished with the help of you, so I want to thank you.”

UPDATE -- May 28, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 56,014; Death toll now at 5,372

After a toss of his cap, Cromartie returned to his family.

“To go from being a kid into an adult through this whole process and come out successful over the COVID-19 -- I’m just thankful that God let me keep my son,” his father said.

Cromartie’s grandmother died from the coronavirus in mid-April. She was his primary caregiver, so her absence weighed heavily on Thursday’s celebration.

Cromartie plans to go to trade school and study HVAC.

Watch Cromartie walk below:

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