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Tampa native remains on life support after contracting COVID-19 in October

Jim Wilson contracted the virus in October
Posted at 7:52 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 23:34:01-05

TAMPA, FLA. — A Tampa native remains hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 last month.

Jim Wilson had a fever and felt extremely tired, according to his family.

He tested positive for the virus in October and was later hospitalized in Colorado.

"I knew what could be in store for him and I was hoping he'd be one of those people who would just have some severe symptoms, be on oxygen and get out of the hospital in a week or two, but that has not been the case," said Brian Wilson, Jim's brother.

Brian Wilson said his brother remains on a ventilator and needed advanced life support called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Blood is pumped outside of your body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Jim grew up in Tampa and attended Gaither High School. He moved to Colorado for work. His family remains in the Tampa Bay area.

"Right now, he's in total lung failure. His lungs are not working at all. Everything else in his body looks to be in good shape as far as they can tell, but they can't get his lungs to come back. Apparently, the idea is they keep recirculating blood with this ECMO machine to give him oxygen with the hope his lungs would heal, but that hasn't happened," said Wilson.

Wilson said the doctors will keep Jim on life support as long as possible.

"They'll keep him on advanced life support as long as they can as long as he's not having any complications to see if his lungs recover," said Wilson.

Wilson said his 49-year-old brother had no underlying health conditions.

"He's slightly overweight, but not obese. He has a slightly elevated BMI....that's it. Nothing else. He's on no medications," said Wilson.

His family started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to pay for medical bills.

"He has a mortgage, bills and all of those things. In a situation like this if he survives he won't be back to work for 6 months to a year if ever," said Wilson.

"He's going to have a loss of income and healthcare expenses," he added.

Wilson urges everyone to take the virus seriously.

"Practice the guidelines set forth by Dr. Fauci and other experts. They're scientists. They've been studying this their whole lives. It's sort of like if you go to a car mechanic, you don't tell them how to do that job. At least, I don't," said Wilson.