Local teen survives swine flu scare

December 8, 2009 6:29:54 PM PST
We have one teenager's story of surviving the swine flu. Doctors called Billy Cary, 13, the sickest child in Texas Children's Hospital. Billy spent almost two months there with swine flu that went into complications that nearly killed him, but he pulled through and went home just before Thanksgiving. "I was put in a drug induced coma for two to three weeks," said Billy.

He spent 54 days in the hospital with swine flu, three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit.

"I was very close to death, my lungs were gone and I was put on multiple ventilators and it was scary," said Billy.

The junior high student had gone to the doctor on a Monday and tested negative for swine flu. On Friday he went back to the doctor, then immediately into the Emergency Room.

"It went from a cold with flu to being intubated in the ICU in four hours," said Billy's father, Bill Cary.

Billy's mother, Kim, added, "They were working on him in the ambulance. I was in the ambulance with him and when we arrived at TCH, they were very quick in intubating him and helping him breathe."

Billy said, "It was like something was caught in my throat and I couldn't get it up. I was coughing and it was like a wheezing feeling."

He's a tennis player who could withstand Houston heat. Now he can only stand long enough to shower. He's doing physical therapy to rebuild his strength.

"He's five foot eight inches and weighed 100 pounds going in. Now he's down to 80 pounds," said Kim.

Dr. Julie Boom said, "For many children, the disease is very mild, but it can be severe and there's no way to predict."

Doctors say as the H1N1 vaccine finally becomes more available, parents need to vaccinate their children.

"We're in the sixth or seventh week of the decline of the H1N1 virus in Texas, but we don't know if that will level out or pick up again," said Dr. Boom.

Billy has lung damage, kidney damage and circulation problems, but he feels lucky.

"I was grateful to be living," he said.

Billy was the only one in his family to get sick. Experts say about a third of the children who have died had no underlying problems.


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