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A father of six from Florida finds the COVID-19 care to save him in Connecticut

"Words will never be enough to show our gratitude," Robby Walker said.

WALLINGFORD, Conn. — Robby Walker calls it, “beyond miraculous.”

Walker’s nearly four-month ordeal battling back against COVID-19 looks like it will have a happy ending, but, in July, the odds were decidedly against the 52-year old father of six from an hour outside Orlando, Florida.

Unvaccinated at the time, Walker came down with COVID-19 and quickly found himself in a Florida ICU with his health failing.

Unable to get the life-saving help they needed in Florida, Walker's wife, Susan, made it her mission to find a hospital willing to take on his uphill case. After trying over one hundred hospitals across the country, Susan Walker took her message to social media and cable TV news shows to get attention.

Credit: Jimmy Altman/FOX61

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The team at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford came to the Walkers' aid and Robby was life-flighted to Connecticut.

“I just didn’t know what I was going to do if I lost him,” Susan Walker said. “I just had to do something.”

At Saint Francis, Walker was hooked up to what’s known as “ECMO” treatments – a machine that can function as the body’s lungs or heart. In his case, it was used to let his lungs regain strength.

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After three weeks on ECMO, Walker had worked back his strength, he was taken off ECMO and ultimately transferred to Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in Wallingford for rehabilitation.

After over a month of working with the rehab team at Gaylord, Walker was deemed well enough to return home to Florida and a celebration outside the hospital was held.

“These people are a blessing,” said Robby as he addressed the team from Saint Francis and Gaylord that saved him. “It’s just amazing that they are here and that I am here,” he added.

Susan Walker said, “It was worth every step that we’ve taken and every dark place that we’ve been in.”

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Dr. Megan Panico, the medical director at Gaylord Hospital said: “He will get his life back and that’s what this is about -- giving people their lives back and moving on from all of this.”

When back in Florida, the Walkers plan to retire and spend time with their grandkids and encourage people to get vaccinated.

Before they departed the hospital in a rented camper that Robby’s brothers drove to Connecticut, Susan Walker said to the healthcare team: “Words will never be enough to show our gratitude.”

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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