H1N1 Flu Patient Jae Abate
The disease that nearly took the life of Jae Abate, a devoted single mom and owner of a catering company, seemed to start benignly enough.
In March 2015, Jae thought she had a case of bronchitis but when she started to have trouble breathing, her teenage son urged her to call an ambulance.
That was very wise advice.
When the EMTs brought Jae to St. Joe's, unbeknownst to her, her life was already in serious jeopardy, After three days of fighting what was not bronchitis but sepsis, pneumonia and a deadly strain of the H1N1 flu virus, the staff in the intensive care made a decision that Jae recalls with emotion today.
"My doctor said they needed to put me into an induced coma to give my lungs a rest," Jae said. "This type of coma usually lasts a day or two. I woke up three weeks later."
While Jae was under sedation, her medical team was battling furiously to save her life as her frightened family was thankful each day that Jae had made it through the night.
"This was a potentially catastrophic situation," says her mother, Tessa, "but the team at St. Joe's was beyond amazing. They never sugar-coated her illness yet they were unbelievably compassionate. Their approach meant that when they sensed a sliver of improvement we knew the tables had turned in Jae's favor. That was a wonderful moment."
Although Jae's life had been saved when her lung infection was successfully treated, she had a long road ahead of her.
"When I was brought out of the coma, I was paralyzed, confused and terrified, not really understanding what had happened to me. I couldn't even speak," Jae said. "Every member of the staff, and I mean everyone, from my physicians and nurses to physical therapy and housekeeping, were unrelentingly kind over the two months I was in St. Joe's. The way they emotionally took care of my son through my illness is a gift I can never repay. I didn't know care like this existed. The fact that so many people came together so perfectly to save the life of a single person is a miracle."
When Jae's son, Tristan, turned 18 their family happily celebrated his birthday at Tio Pepes. Throughout the day, Tessa keep thinking what Tristan's birthday would have been like if Jae was no longer with them.
"It was unimaginable," Tessa said. "The staff at St. Joe's wasn't at his birthday party but it was because of them that we were, celebrating the miracle of both his life and Jae's. It was a good day."