To say that Jeff Fusco was on the ropes would be the classic, epic understatement.
For all practical purposes, he was dead.
Fusco, at the time an executive vice-president at GBS Corp, in North Canton, Ohio (a high-tech productivity firm), and a parishioner at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Austintown, had contracted an especially severe strain of coronavirus. He speculates it was from one of two sources: a fundraiser for the local women’s league at a church hall two weeks before he became ill (they later learned that several there had been infected, one passing away), or, before that, on a plane back from a wedding in Charleston, where on landing at Pittsburgh a medical emergency had been declared and passengers were to wait as a desperately ill man who had been just several seats behind him was taken off the jet. “He was literally leaning right at me on the way out,” Jeff told Spirit Daily. Did he have covid?
Not long after that fundraiser, the 57-year-old executive — who had two significant underlying conditions (multiple myeloma and leukemia) — started feeling “beat up and tired” and one day broke out in a “weird,” drenching sweat.
That Friday, he and wife Theresa were out to dinner with some friends. He woke up the next morning, March 21, “feeling sick,” and by Tuesday was “delirious and not eating.”
Finally, he went to an emergency room, and when they asked, upon entering, if he was okay, he said yes but then “I just fell over.”
Revived, the speculation was that it was just dehydration and medical personnel wanted to send him home. His wife insisted they not. This was at a hospital in Youngstown in the Mercy Health system. “By next day, we knew I wasn’t coming home,” says Fusco. “I was admitted, and covid just took over from there. My version was extremely bad. It infected every organ.”
When Jeff says bad: a temperature of 104 for two weeks and a ventilator for three.
The business executive ended up in three different hospitals, including, via helicopter, Ohio’s legendary Cleveland Clinic, and by the time it was all over and done, an estimated hundred doctors had some sort of role in treating or observing him back in those early days when medical professionals were desperately trying to figure the virus out. “This wasn’t ‘fake,'” says Fusco. “This wasn’t the flu. This was an entirely different animal.”
So different, says the former executive (he’s now retired due to the illness), that he seriously wonders if it was something from a laboratory.
At any rate, in the end, he didn’t get out of the hospital until May 16 — nearly two months after he took seriously ill — and after the virus had damaged the epithelium of his blood vessels and his digestive tract to the point where over the course of his hospitalization, he’d lost an unheard-of five gallons of blood. Covid had “shredded” his intestines.
But there were those praying for him. His mother had created a Facebook campaign for prayers — garnering thousands doing just that — and his wife, a devout Catholic, held a Cross and refused to let him die. She set up a little “chapel” in their home and prayed without ceasing.
“I was packed in ice, my kidneys failed, my heart was slowing and going into arrhythmia, liver, all functions were stopping,” said Fusco. He was on dialysis; he had both a breathing and feeding tube. I had three or four surgeries.”+
Said an entry on his mom’s Facebook page: “I’m sorry to say this but Jeff is in a very, very bad place right now. He started bleeding again late yesterday afternoon. Again they transfused him all night. They took him for a scope this morning and then decided he had to go back for the same procedure he had done on Sunday. The dr. is trying to see if he can do something along with what was done then. If this doesn’t work the next thing would be a very major surgery and they don’t feel that Jeff will survive that because of how critical he is.”