New York Firefighter Has Arms, Feet Amputated After Flu Diagnosis

A volunteer firefighter who contracted the flu faced severe complications after being diagnosed with the virus. Nineteen-year-old Willy McCue, of the New City fire station in Rockland County, New York, had his feet and hands amputated.

McCue contracted a severe case of the flu, which caused pneumonia and then led to sepsis. As his health continued to deteriorate, doctors operated on his appendages in an effort to save his life.

McCue has been in the hospital for more than a month, according to WNYW-TV.

McCue's community has rallied around him in an effort to help him recover. A GoFundMe page set up by his high school football coach to help cover his medical expenses had raised more than $87,000 by Monday morning.

"Willy played for CHSN with grit and an indomitable spirit that was unparalleled," Joe Trongone, Clarkstown North varsity football head coach, wrote on the GoFundMe page. "Just as he showed his opponents on the field during his varsity days, Willy is unrelenting, determined to defeat the medical challenges that he is presently facing."

"He joined the fire department just to give back to everybody," New City fire assistant chief Richard Willows told WNYW-TV. "That's the type of heart he has."

Volunteer firefighter Thomas Gerlich told WNYW that "as sad as he is, he's in good spirits and just wants to get to rehab and get back riding the trucks—that's what our goal is."

"Erika and I are completely awestruck by the outpouring of support, prayers and generosity of everyone who is contributing to Team McCue,"his father, Will McCue, wrote on the GoFundMe page in February. "We are adjusting to meeting the challenges each day brings, facing them with a fervent hope that Willy is one step closer to coming home."

This season's flu season has seen the highest rate of hospitalizations in almost a decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in February. According to the CDC, the majority of flu patients will develop a "mild illness" and recover in under two weeks without medical care. But the agency notes that flu complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infection, can occur, and complications can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death.