H1N1 survivor returns home after 6 months in hospital

May 5, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
The number of H1N1 cases is definitely falling. However, there were 51 confirmed deaths in Ohio from H1N1, and the virus sickened countless others. The Lucas County Health Department tells 13abc that there have been only 5 hospitalized cases since January. But the impact of H1N1 is still being felt.

For one man, it started with a simple cough, and within hours he was on life support. Gregory Clark, 54, now spends his days in physical therapy. This recently retired Jeep worker is trying to regain his strength and learn how to walk with only one leg. Wife Chawnette says, "He began coughing and from coughing he had a fever and that escalated and they took him in the ER and within hours he was on life support."

That was in November. Doctors diagnosed Gregory with the H1N1 virus, but even they admit his case wasn't normal. Dr. Mounir Elkhatib says, "This is a very dramatic case, very dramatic and the recovery has been nothing short of a miracle."

Dr. Elkhatib says the flu escalated into pneumonia. He then had respiratory failure and had to be placed on a ventilator. But then he had a rare complication of a clotting disorder. "That resulted in clots in one of his legs and that required amputation. Then he had strokes, three minor strokes and kidney failure," explains Dr. Elkhatib.

While in a coma, his family was told he likely wouldn't survive. But to the shock of most everyone, he pulled through. He says it's because of his wife. "She's my strength, keep me going. Without her wouldn't be here. Thank you," says Gregory.

Because of the strokes, Gregory still has some difficulty speaking. He says despite all the bad, his experience does have an up side. He says, "We are closer together my family, we are closer together now."

This past Sunday, he went home for the first time in 6 months. His wife Chawnette calls the experience surreal, but says it's taught her the importance of living. She says, "Life is not stuff, material things, nothing matters when you are sick. Your whole world stops during the times when he was in ICU, nothing mattered except for him getting well."

Although Gregory isn't out of the woods yet, his doctors say he's well on his way to leading a normal life and at 54 years old he has a lot of life to live.

Gregory Clark will likely remain in rehab for a few more weeks. He is looking forward to landscaping, fishing and spending time with his grandchildren when he gets home.

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