By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – A father of two is encouraging everyone to get a flu shot.
That’s because, five years ago, influenza almost killed him.
“You don’t really want to go through what I went through,” Victor Carlos told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Carlos almost died. In 2012, he was 41-years-old. He had run three marathons, and was training for another. He did not get a flu shot.
“I was just afraid of needles and injections,” Carlos explained.
That December, the husband and father of two ended up on life support, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), at the University of Colorado Hospital.
The ECMO machine is similar to the heart-lung by-pass machine used in open-heart surgery.
“Like an artificial lung that oxygenates the blood for you because my lungs couldn’t do it,” he said.
Carlos had gotten the flu. That led to pneumonia and then acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
“That’s when things got really desperate,” he said.
Carlos was given a 50 percent chance of survival.
“By the time I woke up it was like 30 days later. It was a new year,” he explained.
“The only reason he’s alive today is because he is young and healthy,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, infectious disease specialist and Medical Director of Infection Control for the University of Colorado Hospital. “Anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 people in the U.S. die from the flu every year.”
On Friday, Carlos got a flu shot, something he has done every year since influenza almost killed him.
“As soon as I see that sign that says flu shots are available we just pop in there and get the shots,” Carlos said.
And he has decided to speak out in favor of the flu vaccine.
“If we can convince just that one person to get their flu shot and possibly save their life that would be worth it for me,” he said.
Carlos has run three marathons since his hospitalization five years ago. He knows he is lucky to be running again.
“I’m grateful for the people who helped me out through that whole ordeal and try to pay that forward,” he said.
He appreciates every day.