LARGO, Fla. — A Pasco County man says he’s alive because of a team of doctors and nurses who never gave up hope during his long and treacherous battle with COVID-19.
Scott Astringer’s family will never forget the January day they watched as the man they adore was loaded into a medical helicopter to fly him from Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center to Largo Medical Center unsure if they’d ever see him again.
Scott spent 31 days on a ventilator and when his lungs started to fail, doctors tried one last option: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation or ECMO.
“I remember telling my wife over video chat that I loved her and telling her to let my kids know I loved them, and they put me under, and I don’t remember anything again for another month,” he said.
Largo Medical Center says the ECMO treatment is less than 50% effective, but doctors told Astringer’s family not to give up hope. Astringer miraculously pulled through.
“We don’t use ECMO until a patient’s lungs stop working. So, basically, we’re pulling out 5 liters of blood every minute, putting it through a pump and machine to oxygenate the blood and put it right back in the body, so we are basically trying to buy time for the lungs to come back,” explained Dr. Mark Vila, a pulmonary critical care physician at Largo Medical Center.
When Astringer left the hospital, he couldn’t walk and could barely talk. When he returned Friday, six months after being discharged, he was back to walking and driving. For the healthcare heroes who have spent a long year and a half working to keep thousands of patients alive, it’s a good reminder of just how critical their jobs are.
“They deserve all the recognition in the world for doing what they do and giving people like me another chance,” Astringer said.
“Every single day doing the same thing over and over again and you just never think there’s going to be an end and when you see somebody like that it gives you a full heart,” said his critical care nurse Theresa Thoman.
Astringer is still dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19 like neuropathy and decreased lung capacity, but says he’s forever grateful for this second lease on life.
“It changed my life forever. It wasn’t over the day I checked out of the hospital like it is with the flu or pneumonia. This is going to have an everlasting effect on my life. I feel very lucky and thankful the doctors made all the right calls in my case and were able to save me and bring me back to where I am now,” he added.