She also started a cross-country mission to save her husband's life.Striking out after 169 hospitals in several statesTen days after Robby was intubated, a doctor told Susan her husband most likely "was not going to make it out of the hospital." "When they told me he was dying, I just didn't accept it," she said.But with Florida's recent influx of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, ECMO availability for Robby was scarce to nonexistent."We have searched every hospital from the south of Florida to the north part of Florida," Susan said in early August.So family members created a list of hospitals to call and see if anyone had ECMO availability.
By the time Covid-19 patients reach Gallagher, they're usually in dire condition -- and sometimes in need of ECMO.He forwarded Susan's interview to the chief perfusionist, who runs the ECMO machines, and decided to try to get Robby Walker to Connecticut."It was kind of my Hail Mary because if I would have not taken the chance, they just would have had no choice but to leave him there and have his organs fail one by one," Susan said.Robby survived the 1,200-mile journey and started ECMO treatment at St.She got to know the family of a nearby Covid-19 patient who was younger than Robby.
That patient soon died."I sit in the hospital room and I just listen to, you know, the door next to Robby," she said.
It's just devastating."Then on September 2, Robby Walker was taken off ECMO treatment.But without ECMO, he said, Robby Walker probably would not have survived.
After weeks of muscle erosion, the formerly sturdy construction business owner who exercised at the gym daily now struggles to stand up."We just started physical therapy this week," Robby said Thursday.
"I can already tell a difference from last week."He got emotional when he talked about how hard Susan and other family members worked to find life-saving treatment for him."I couldn't be more proud of her," Robby said, crying.
Because his lungs are scarred, he might not be able to handle another illness well -- whether it's Covid-19, the flu or any other virus.The family's ordeal has inspired at least 60 friends, family and colleagues to get the Covid-19 vaccine, Susan said.April Torri and her husband were "not anti-vaxxers," she said.
It made us think twice."And since Robby was hospitalized, two lifelong friends from their hometown of Clermont, Florida, died from Covid-19, Torri said.
"None of us have had any negative (side effects)," Torri said.To others who are vaccine hesitant like she was before Robby fell ill, "I would say do your research," Torri said.
I just was like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't have what happened to Robby happen to my family or my kids.'"She soon took her sons to get vaccinated -- and not just for their own health.
Nicholson wanted to minimize the risk of her children accidentally spreading the virus to others and causing a shortage of hospital resources -- just like Robby faced.
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