Your Healthy Family: Fox 4 talks to man on artificial lung after severe COVID-19

Sean Hanley, 53, is recovering at NCH Healthcare System's Downtown Baker Hospital
Posted at 9:46 AM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 09:46:24-05

NAPLES, Fla. — Sean Hanley, 53, has come out of a medically-induced coma and is on an artificial lung at NCH Healthcare System's Downtown Baker Hospital until he recovers from his severe COVID-19 diagnosis.

"How are you feeling? I mean, I know that's a loaded question..." Fox 4's Lisa Greenberg asked him.

"If you take away all this stuff, OK..." Hanley said.

When Fox 4 interviewed Hanley, it was just days after he was able to talk again. There was a time his doctors thought he may not make it.

"When we met Sean, Sean came from an outside hospital. He was in severe respiratory failure, he was on the ventilator already,” Dr. Gaston Cudemus, the Chief of NCH Healthcare System's Cardiovascular ICU and the Director of its ECMO program, said,

Sean Hanley was brought to NCH to see if he'd be a good candidate for ECMO, or Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. It's a form of life support, also called an artificial lung, that does the work for Hanley's lungs so they can try to recover.

"We put him on ECMO shortly after, and then the processes started to get him out of the coma: decreasing the amount of sedatives, being careful to protect the lungs and the rest of his organs," Dr. Cudemus said.

Dr. Cudemus said the fact that Hanley is awake lets him be a part of his own recovery.

"The ability to be able to talk to him, help him in this painful process, have him interacting with the staff, the ability to work with physical therapy, that's all part of the aggressive physical therapy regimen that we have," Dr. Cudemus said.

He said the whole process takes time, and an entire team, to make happen.

"Words can't describe how grateful I am," Hanley said. "The doctor is a quarterback, but the real help is from the nursing staff and all unbelievable support that they give me."

The goal is to help Hanley's lungs recover from the havoc of COVID-19. Patients whose lungs can't recover, are on ECMO until they can get a lung transplant.

"He's working everyday to try to get stronger, and and we're extremely happy about that," Dr. Cudemus said.

Hanley has no underlying health conditions, and said he didn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I made a bad decision. I'm paying for it," he said.

And he has a message for everyone.

"When they say get vaccinated, get vaccinated. The symptoms are different for everybody. Unfortunately, I got a bad strain and it's literally almost wiped me out," Hanley said.