Unvaccinated Father Given 15 Percent Chance to Survive Leaves Hospital After 77 Days

A 34-year-old unvaccinated North Carolina father who spent 77 days hospitalized with COVID-19 said he regrets not getting vaccinated after being released from the hospital.

Jamie Calcasola first contracted the virus while on vacation in Orlando, Florida in August. He then traveled to his family's home in North Carolina, where he began showing symptoms of the virus, local news station WECT reported.

After trying to rest, Calcasola said he began to grow too weak to get out of bed and couldn't breathe. His family rushed him to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina after his fingers and lips turned blue, according to the news station.

According to the report. Calcasola's condition took a turn for the worse in the hospital. He fell ill with two types of pneumonia, and doctors had to put him into a medically-induced coma, according to WECT. He was kept alive by staying on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

ECMO machines serve as external lungs for those who are seriously ill with the virus by pumping blood outside of their body, removing carbon dioxide and pumping oxygen-rich blood back into their body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

During his time in the hospital, Calcasola missed milestones in his family's life, including one of his children's 13th birthday. His wife, Brittany Chitty, told the station it was one of the most challenging times of her life.

Doctors gave him only a 15 percent chance of survival, the news station reported.

But Calcasola was able to defy the odds and return home alive. He credited his survival to the ECMO machine, noting that he may not have lived if he did not have access to the machine.

"Not all hospitals have ECMO machines that are available—they only have a few and they've got dozens of COVID patients that are dying," he said.

Calcasola was not vaccinated when he became infected with the virus, but he told the news station he regrets not taking the vaccine earlier.

"I was the poster boy for anti-vax and the ignorance towards it all," he said. "It's something I definitely regret because I wouldn't have had to go through everything that I went through and put my family through. My wife had to sit and watch me go through all this, I got to sleep for most of it but they watched me fight for my life in that bed."

"I have a new lease on life. I've called it 'my new life.' I just want to be the best dad, the best husband I can be, Calcasola said in an interview with Novant Health—which runs the hospital where he was treated.

Unvaccinated Father Released From Hospital
An unvaccinated North Carolina father who was released from the hospital after being given a 15 percent chance survival rate regrets not getting vaccinated. Above, a doctor in New York prepares to administer a vaccine in December 2020. Mark Lennihan - Pool/Getty Images