Florida dad who got Covid-19 care 1,200 miles away is going home months later. These are the lessons he wants to share

Asia's Tech News Daily

These days, brushing his teeth while standing up is a major accomplishment.

© Courtesy Susan Walker Robby Walker left Saint Francis hospital unable to stand without the help of a walker.

But Robby Walker is alive — a feat some doctors didn’t expect two months ago. And while the 52-year-old struggles to speak long sentences, he’s now using his voice to try to prevent others from suffering the way he did.

The Florida father of six was unvaccinated and gravely ill as Covid-19 pneumonia ravaged both his lungs in August. “He is in dire need of an ECMO treatment, which is not available at the hospital that he is in,” his wife Susan Walker told CNN at the time.

ECMO treatment uses an external machine that can function as the body’s heart and lungs. It can be used for organ transplant patients, victims of severe heart attacks and seriously ill Covid-19 patients — including young adults.

Family members called 169 hospitals in several states, but there was no ECMO availability for Robby. “All the beds are taken up by Covid victims also getting ECMO treatment,” Susan said in a CNN interview.

Then a doctor in Connecticut saw Susan’s emotional interview and decided to help.

Now, after three weeks on ECMO and a month learning how to walk again, Robby returned to Florida this week — with a new mission.

A different life after Covid-19

Before Robby fell ill in July, he was a strong and sturdy construction business owner who worked out at the gym and ran 5 miles every day.

“Fifty-two years, I’ve done pretty much whatever I wanted,” Robby told CNN. “Now, I’m very limited.”

Scarred lungs and reduced lung capacity means he can only speak in short, choppy sentences before having to catch his breath. He also lost more than 50 pounds while hospitalized as his muscles eroded.

Even brushing his teeth is now a struggle.

“Sitting in a chair, it’s probably a 5- or 6-minute ordeal,” Robby said.

“If I stand, then I have to take a break between. So it’s a little longer,” he said.

“It takes a lot more energy to hold yourself up. I can go from sitting in a chair to standing, and my heart rate will jump 20, 30 beats a minute.”

After his ECMO treatment at Connecticut’s Saint Francis Hospital, Robby spent a month in physical therapy at Gaylord Speciality Healthcare about 30 miles away.

He relearned how to walk and practiced basic self-care with the help of an assistant. But he still needs a walker to move around, and small tasks can be draining — even after taking a break.

“Once your heart rate comes down and your breathing gets straight, you’re still just exhausted,” he said. “Physically. It just takes a lot of energy to do.”

But the fact he’s even alive is worth celebrating.

‘They told me he was dying’

Robby called his wife on July 25 from his hospital bed in Florida and told her he had made a gut-wrenching decision.

“He had signed the papers to be intubated,” Susan said.

Some Covid-19 patients who get put on ventilators don’t survive the disease. Their final calls to their families before intubation are their last.

“He cried and just told me how regretful he was of not getting the shot,” Susan said. “And he begged me to go get vaccinated.”

She did. But it was too late to protect her husband, whose condition kept deteriorating.

“They told me he was dying,” Susan said. And the ECMO treatment Robby needed wasn’t available.

Susan told her story to CNN in August. Hours later, a doctor 1,200 miles away was checking his Facebook feed and saw a CNN post with a video clip of Susan’s interview.

“I just clicked on it and watched it and … it was pretty compelling,” said Dr. Robert Gallagher, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Trinity Health of New England.

Cardiothoracic surgeons operate on diseases in the chest, including in the heart and lungs. By the time Covid-19 patients reach Gallagher, they’re usually in dire condition — and often in need of ECMO.

He forwarded Susan’s interview to the chief perfusionist, who runs the ECMO machines. And she immediately wanted to help.

“I said, ‘OK, how are we going to find this family?'” Angela Sakal, the chief perfusionist at Saint Francis Hospital in Connecticut, told CNN.

She contacted a friend in Florida who’s savvy on social media. “And within a couple of hours, she had Susan’s phone number,” Sakal said.

Within two days, Susan hired a medical evacuation team to fly Robby from Florida to Connecticut — intubated, sedated and near death.

When Sakal first saw Robby, she wasn’t sure he would survive.

“I can’t guarantee you an outcome,” she recalled telling Susan. “I don’t know what the future is going to be. But I can promise you that we’re going to do the best that we can for him.”

ECMO is sometimes used as a last resort for critically ill Covid-19 patients with failing lungs. It removes blood from the body, eliminates carbon dioxide and adds oxygen to the blood, then pumps the blood back into the body so the lungs might have a chance to recover.

Gallagher inserted the ECMO tubes in Robby’s neck. And over the next 22 days, Sakal oversaw Robby’s ECMO treatment.

Younger Covid-19 patients are needing ECMO

Robby isn’t the only previously healthy Covid-19 patient Sakal has seen needing ECMO.

With the rise of the Delta variant, Sakal said some ECMO patients have been in their 20s.

“What we’re finding is our Covid patients — even the young ones — are single organ failure (and) previously healthy,” Sakal said. “And the Covid is just destroying their lungs.”

Not everyone who goes on ECMO survives. But after three weeks of getting his blood extracted and returned, Robby’s lungs had recovered enough to support him again.

He was discharged from Saint Francis in mid-September and started a month of inpatient rehabilitation at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare.

“My lungs have gotten a little bit better, (but) my heart rate still races a little bit,” Robby said this week.

“I can walk by myself — somebody’s there just kind of making sure I’m staying straight. But I use a roller/walker, and I’m able to walk a decent distance,” he said.

“I mean, I’m not going to the mall or going shopping. But I’m able to walk some now. So it’s been a big improvement.”

After a month of difficult work relearning basic skills, Robby was released from rehab Wednesday. Most of his ECMO team from Saint Francis Hospital traveled to Gaylord to see him off to Florida.

Sakal was there. She fought back tears as she visited her former patient.

“I remember when he first got here,” she said Wednesday. “And I watched him today, standing up and talking and walking. It was amazing. It was just awesome.”

A new life filled with uncertainty and lessons learned

Robby’s two brothers rented an RV and drove up to Connecticut to bring him and Susan home. The drive would take more than 24 hours.

As he traveled back to Florida to restart his life, Robby said the first thing he wanted was his wife’s homemade chicken pot pie.

But many other aspects of his former life will be different.

It’s not clear when Robby might be able to go to work again, as he still needs months more of rehabilitation.

The family also has no idea how much of the $1.5 million in medical bills racked up so far in Florida and Connecticut they will owe — or how exactly they will pay it. A family friend set up a GoFundMe account to help with Robby’s medical expenses.

And Robby doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to return to all the activities he loved.

“My goal is to get hopefully 80% or 90% to where I was,” he said. But “they just don’t know enough about this to give any kind of definitive answers.”

For now, he won’t be able to go fishing or work out at the gym every day.

“I don’t have a lot of strength,” he said, joking about fishing: “I wouldn’t want anything to pull me over the reel.”

But what he lacks in physical ability, he’s gained in new wisdom — especially when it comes to Covid-19 and vaccines.

Robby’s ordeal has inspired more than 100 friends, relatives and acquaintances to get vaccinated — including some who were extremely hesitant, Susan said.

Robby said the reason he and Susan didn’t get vaccinated earlier was due to “a lack of education on our part.”

With countless rumors and claims spread on social media, “you don’t know what to believe anymore,” he said. “A lot of that was ignorance on our part, for not doing more research.”

“We thought that the vaccine was something that was created in a year or two. So we felt like there wasn’t enough information,” he said.

“But through this journey that I’ve had, we’ve discovered that (mRNA vaccine research) has actually been around for 20-plus years.”

He also wrongly assumed that he wouldn’t get severely sick.

“I just thought it would be like a flu. I thought that it was something that affected people with underlying conditions. I had none,” Robby said.

“But for whatever reason, it affected me differently. And if I had to do it over again, I would have gotten my vaccination when it was available to me.”

After he left the hospital, Robby received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine. He had some side effects for a day, he said, but they weren’t nearly as bad as his Covid-19 symptoms.

“There was a little fever … my first few days of Covid, I had a bigger fever than that,” Robby said.

“I just had no energy. I did run a fever for probably a day, day and a half. But nothing horrible compared to everything else I’ve gone through.”

Robby Walker spent a month in rehab at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in Connecticut. Scarred lungs and reduced lung capacity make even small tasks challenging, he said. Susan Walker said she dug into retirement savings to help pay for Robby’s medical evacation flight. Robby Walker’s blood is removed and returned during ECMO treatment. Robby Walker was releasd from inpatient rehabilitation Wednesday at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in Connecticut. Susan Walker said she couldn’t bear to think about losing her husband, the father of six children. Robby Walker, his wife Susan (in gray shirt) and members of Saint Francis Hospital’s ECMO team gather Wednesday to celebrate Walker’s release from rehabilitation at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. Angela Sakal (far right) was Walker’s chief perfusionist at Saint Francis.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Judge declines lower bond for Fairfield teens

Dec. 3—FAIRFIELD — Bond will stay at $1 million cash only for two Fairfield juveniles accused by police of killing a high school Spanish teacher. Judge Joel Yates, in a ... Read more »

Microsoft reverses Windows 11 changes that made it hard to switch browsers

Microsoft appears to be eliminating Windows 11 changes that made it harder to switch default browsers, according to a report from The Verge's Tom Warren. A new Insider build now ... Read more »

EC man convicted for failing to tell police about overdose death

Dec. 3—EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire man has been convicted of failing to let police know a drug overdose victim died in his residence. The incident occurred nearly three ... Read more »

Post Falls coffee shop shooter caught on video before fleeing

Dec. 3—Surveillance cameras captured the Wednesday shooting at Kokopelli Coffee in Post Falls that left two men injured, according to court documents filed Thursday. Post Falls police received multiple 911 ... Read more »

Pandas – how the condition can drastically change a child's behaviour. A Hong Kong family shares their story

On a family trip to Singapore in October 2018, Katy and Ben Chandler witnessed a stunning change in their eight-year-old son Sam’s behaviour. Katy had been watching over Sam and ... Read more »

Braun, No. 8 Kansas turn back St. John's at Islanders' home

NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Braun had a career-high 31 points, Ochai Agbaji scored 23 and No. 8 Kansas emphatically turned back a second-half charge to beat St. John’s 95-75 ... Read more »

Hawkish Fed boosts value stocks' appeal for some investors

FILE PHOTO: An entrance to the NYSE on Wall Street in New York By David Randall NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some investors are preparing for a hawkish turn from the ... Read more »

Police investigating after video of violent home invasion surfaces online

Map of home-invasion robbery Authorities are investigating a violent home invasion in the Fairfax district after video surfaced on social media. The robbery occurred in the 100 block of North ... Read more »

Seventeen-year-old arrested and charged with murder in Northland shooting

A light-colored Lincoln sedan with its doors open and multiple bullet holes in the front windshield sits behind crime scene tape at the back of a parking lot on Friday ... Read more »

Man convicted of molesting 18-month-old boy; woman also convicted earlier

A Desert Hot Springs man was convicted on Friday of molesting an 18-month-old male relative, following the conviction two days earlier of a Coachella woman who also molested the boy. ... Read more »

Roundup: Oxnard man hospitalized in fiery crash, Ventura crash victim named, more news

Here's a roundup of recent incidents and announcements from Ventura County agencies: Driver hospitalized after fiery crash OXNARD – A 66-year-old Oxnard man was hospitalized with critical injuries after driving ... Read more »

Boston leads No. 1 South Carolina to 65-44 win over Wildcats

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dawn Staley knows about point guards. And the Hall of Famer saw all she needed the past few seasons to tell her 6-foot-4 Laeticia Amihere had ... Read more »

Man faces murder charge after fatal shooting outside Chipotle restaurant near Palm Beach Gardens

PALM BEACH GARDENS — A dispute between co-workers at a Chipotle Mexican Grill led last month to an exchange of gunfire in its parking lot that killed one person and ... Read more »

Medical examiner: Matthew Lindquist was stabbed 67 times in Griswold attack

Dec. 3—After being chased into the woods on a cold December night, Matthew Lindquist was stabbed 67 times, causing stab, slice and 'chop' wounds across his body, according to a ... Read more »

2nd man arrested in Suffolk killing; 3rd still sought

Police arrested the second of three men wanted in connection with a shooting that left one man dead and another wounded Sunday afternoon in Suffolk. Suffolk Police have warrants charging ... Read more »

Sonora police arrest student for allegedly threatening a shooting at Cassina High campus

A student at a Sonora high school was arrested Friday afternoon after allegedly making threats against the school and students, police said. Cassina High School administration notified the Sonora Police ... Read more »

Former Suring substitute teacher and Village Board member pleads guilty to federal child sex abuse charges

SURING – A 37-year-old former substitute teacher and Village Board member pleaded guilty to federal child sexual abuse charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a news release Friday. ... Read more »

Montgomery County Sheriff's deputy charged with domestic related harassment and stalking

A Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Deputy was arrested Friday and charged with domestic related harassment and stalking. On Monday, MCSO received information on possible stalking and harassment incidents involving an ... Read more »

10 things registered dietitians want you to know before starting the keto diet

© Cavan Images/Getty Images 10 things registered dietitians want you to know before starting the keto diet Starting the keto diet will often come with symptoms including fatigue and constipation. ... Read more »

How to lose weight in menopause with the Galveston diet

© Eugenio Marongiu/ Getty Images How to lose weight in menopause with the Galveston diet The Galveston diet can help middle-aged women lose weight gained from menopause. The eating plan ... Read more »

US hiring stumbles in November as economy adds just 210,000 new jobs

Economists expected payrolls to increase by 550,000 in November Read more »

Strome scores as Rangers beat Sharks 1-0; Shesterkin hurt

NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Strome scored in the first period, and Igor Shesterkin and Alexander Georgiev combined for a 28-save shutout as the New York Rangers beat the San ... Read more »

Braun leads No. 8 Kansas past St. John's 95-75 at new arena

NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Braun had a career-high 31 points, Ochai Agbaji scored 23 and No. 8 Kansas emphatically turned back a second-half charge to beat St. John’s 95-75 ... Read more »

Accused CVS shoplifter ordered to pay restitution

Dec. 3—NEWBURYPORT — A Newburyport District Court judge on Wednesday ordered a New Hampshire man to pay CVS Pharmacy a to-be-determined amount of restitution after the man admitted he could ... Read more »

Lowry leads 3-point barrage in Heat win over Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kyle Lowry scored a season-high 26 points with six 3-pointers and the short-handed Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 113-104 on Friday night. The Heat were missing ... Read more »

St. Paul left reeling after hitting homicide record for ci

St. Paul was left reeling Friday, a day after a man was stabbed to death in the capital city's record 35th homicide of the year. The killing, which started over ... Read more »

Members of Bay Area retail theft ring that stole millions plead guilty

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta speaks at a recent news conference. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times) Members of a Bay Area theft ring believed to have stolen merchandise worth ... Read more »

Beatty, Filmore lead NC A&T past Carver College 97-55

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — David Beatty had 13 points to lead five North Carolina A&T players in double figures as the Aggies rolled past Carver College 97-55 on Friday. Webster ... Read more »

Bucks bring veteran Wesley Matthews back to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wesley Matthews is back with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks signed the swingman Friday, bringing him back after he spent the 2019-20 season with them. Matthews, who ... Read more »

Plummer, Cockburn lead Illinois past Rutgers 86-51

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Alfonso Plummer scored 24 points, Kofi Cockburn had a double-double and Illinois cruised to an 86-51 victory over Rutgers on Friday night in the Big Ten ... Read more »

U.S. airlines to participate in Senate oversight hearing

FILE PHOTO: American Airlines planes are seen at the tarmac of JFK International Airport in New York By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. airlines will take part in a ... Read more »

Cavs extend winning streak to 4 with 116-101 rout of Wizards

WASHINGTON (AP) — Darius Garland had 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers went on a 19-0 run spanning part of each half in a 116-101 ... Read more »

Bishop leads No. 7 Texas over UT Rio Grande Valley 88-58

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Christian Bishop scored 17 points and No. 7 Texas used suffocating defense in the second half to beat Texas Rio Grande Valley 88-58 Friday night. Bishop, ... Read more »

Watch mountain lion stare down pup through glass door of Colorado home. ‘Really scary'

When Sarah Bole got home from work one evening this week, she was greeted by a mountain lion on her patio. Her 13-year-old Shih-Poo was in a stare-down with the ... Read more »

S.Korea reports record-high COVID-19 cases, deaths

FILE PHOTO: A girl waits for his father undergoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at its testing site in central Seoul By Sangmi Cha SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea reported a ... Read more »

Joliet-area couple pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges in connection with U.S. Capitol breach

A Joliet-area couple pleaded guilty Friday to charges stemming from the breach of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. John Schubert, 71, and his wife Amy Schubert, 61, ... Read more »

Chicago activist banned from courthouse during Jussie Smollett trial

A Chicago activist and writer was banned last week from the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse for the duration of the Jussie Smollett trial, apparently because she spoke to the ... Read more »

20 awesome construction toys to add to your holiday list

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you’re going to buy one big investment toy this year, ... Read more »

Grappling with an uncertain reality as omicron and covid's third year approach

PORTLAND, Ore. – Like most people in the United States, Michael Kerr got word of the new omicron variant on Thanksgiving Day, when the news surfaced on his wife's cellphone. ... Read more »

FDA adds strict safety warnings on arthritis drugs from Pfizer, AbbVie and Lilly

1 / 3FDA adds strict safety warnings on arthritis drugs from Pfizer, AbbVie and LillyFILE PHOTO: Pfizer logo in Manhattan, New York (Reuters) – The U.S. health regulator has added ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic