Unvaccinated Firefighter Hospitalized by COVID for Months Can Barely Walk

A firefighter from Arizona has finally left the hospital after a four-month stay as the result of serious COVID complications during which he almost lost his life.

Brad Henderson, 52, was only able to walk during a gong-ringing ceremony to mark his discharge from Banner Rehabilitation Hospital in Phoenix with the aid of a walker, ABC 15 reported.

The Yuma firefighter, who is a father of two, was unvaccinated when he was air-lifted to Banner University Medical Center in October. At the hospital, Henderson was first placed on a ventilator, then he was placed on a device that oxygenates the blood outside the patient's body called an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

The firefighter for the Yuma Army Proving Ground with two decades of service spent 55 days on the ECMO with his blood flowing through tubing to an artificial lung in the machine that adds oxygen and takes out carbon dioxide. His blood was then warmed to body temperature and pumped back into his body.

His wife Shannon Henderson told the Arizona news station: "He had so many health issues that happened at the same time, collapsed lungs. Afib, infections. That's what's so hard, not being able to do anything."

After coming off the ECMO, Henderson entered rehab with one of his therapists saying that he was now to the point in his recovery where he can walk a total of 120 feet and only needs 2 liters of oxygen to support his activity.

Another therapist added: "He's really made tons of improvement and largely that's thanks to his work ethic."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that people like Brad Henderson who are unvaccinated have a greater risk of dying as a result of COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated.

The agency has said that unvaccinated people in all age groups have higher case and death rates than fully vaccinated people in the same age groups, with these rates much lower for people vaccinated with all three COVID vaccine types.

As of December 2021, CDC statistics showed that unvaccinated adults over 18 had five times the risk of testing positive for COVID, unvaccinated adults were 16 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of COVID, and, as of November 2021, they had 68 times the risk of death as a result of COVID in comparison to vaccinated adults.

For adults in the same age range as Henderson, 50-64, the CDC said that unvaccinated people were 45 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than vaccinated people who had received a booster shot.

The Yuma firefighter told ABC 15 that he knows he has a lot more therapy to undergo as a result of his brush with COVID.

The 52-year-old who told the station he was looking forward to grabbing a Whataburger and seeing his dog Professor, added simply: "It's been a long time."

The Colorado State Joint Information Center told Newsweek: "The best protection against COVID-19 and its variants is to get vaccinated and stay up to date on vaccinations.

"We urge all adults and all parents and guardians of children 5-17 to make a vaccine appointment, and for those 12 and up, to get a third dose when it is time."

Man in hospital bed
A stock image showing a man in a hospital. A 52-year-old firefighter from Yuma who was unvaccinated was hospitalized for four months after contacting COVID and can now walk just 120 feet. DigitalVision/GETTY