A Calgary man says he’s lucky to be alive after spending more than 20 days last month in a medically induced coma.
Brad Kettyle, 43, had no underlying health conditions when H1N1 flu brought him to death’s door.
“When the reality of the situation settled in, what went through my mind is I may have to deal with the death of a son,” said Ed Kettyle, Brad’s father.
Kettyle’s ordeal began in early December when the avid mountain biker came down with what he thought was a bad chest cold.
“I went to a clinic on December 10 and they gave me antibiotics. I remember them telling me I’d feel better in a week which I was excited about because I was supposed to go on a trip the following week,” Kettyle said
Instead of getting better, Kettyle got sicker. Two days later when he began experiencing problems breathing, Kettyl called 911.
“I do remember them, in the ambulance saying that they were going to induce a coma and my thoughts on that, at the time, it would be just a day or two. They’d clean out my lungs or something and I would be fine.”
Kettyle was far from fine. Once in intensive care, he experienced respiratory failure and was put on life support. As the infection spread, his kidneys started failing as well. He then required surgery on his gall bladder. Bit by bit, H1N1 was causing Brad’s body to shut down.
“We think the H1N1 flu is targetting younger patients, simply because they’ve not been exposed to H1N1 that many times in their life, so they have less protective immunity,” said Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine.
Jenne believes H1N1 has likely been around for hundreds of years, but within the last century, three specific events resulted in widespread pathogen exposure.
WATCH: Calgary man survives severe flu attack, warns Canadians to get flu shot
“The Spanish flu epidemic during World War One, that was H1N1, in the 1970s, the swine flu epidemic, that was H1N1,” Jenne said. “Then ten years ago, a new form of H1N1 came around and that was the flu everyone was afraid of 2009.”
That year, public health officials had to scramble to develop a vaccine that could provide protection against the mutated strain of H1N1.
Fortunately, in the decade since, the virus has changed very little. Jenne says that means the H1N1 vaccine currently being offered is a near perfect match.
Kettyle says he now realizes getting the flu shot could have saved him from this whole ordeal. Now, he hopes his experience will prevent others from making the same mistake.
“The fact that what I thought was a cold, turned into the flu, turned into a near death experience for me, really shocked everyone I know.”
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