LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For the past three weeks, a Lufkin cardiologist has been fighting for his life in a Houston hospital after contracting the H1N1 virus.
It happened around the same time his wife contracted flu like symptoms and suffered a minor heart attack.
Now, their 19-year-old daughter has been left to pick up the pieces while her mother recovers and her father battles a coma. Becca Gill says she has been living in Houston temporarily while her father is in the hospital, but on Wednesday, she says he finally opened his eyes.
"Today has been pretty good. [On Wednesday] he opened his eyes and he started communicating and he was like making his goofy faces so I knew it was him and all that stuff, so it's been a progression," Gill said via Skype.
The Stephen F. Austin University Nursing student says on Christmas Eve her father came home from his rounds at Woodland Heights throwing up. She says after taking him back to the hospital he was told he just had an upper respiratory infection. But when his symptoms didn't approve, she returned him to the emergency room. During that visit, he was told he had H1N1 and his lungs were failing.
"Back in Lufkin, they don't have anything past a ventilator and they were scared he was going to have to need something more, which is called an ECMO machine, which is basically your lungs in a machine," Gill said.
The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation machine is used in intensive care to provide cardiac and respiratory support oxygen to patients whose heart and lungs are damaged.
That's when her father was sent to Methodist Hospital in Houston via life flight where he has been for the past three weeks.
"I have seen so many people back [here] with H1N1 and they have made the entire isolation room for H1N1. Those beds are literally like money beds…there is a waiting list for them," Gill said.
Gill says it's been hard to see her dad suffer, but is happy she decided to be there for him.
"My mom could never make these kind of decisions and honestly, it's just one of those things where I am a control freak and I needed to step up and do it. I don't think I can handle someone giving me news other than me," Gill said.
Gill says her dad is the only person in her family who makes money so she decided to create a GoFundMe account to raise $10,000 to pay for her parent's medical bills.
"It's just been overwhelming how much love and appreciation we go through it. We almost have $13,000 in there and I think it's just amazing," Gill said.
Gill says her dad will have to rehabilitation for four more months, and is still coming in and out of a coma, but she says she knows he is going to be OK.