H1N1 aftermath

James
James McLeod
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Health Pandemic victim copes with losing two feet, seven fingers

Des McDonald sits in his wheelchair at home in Goulds Thursday. He contracted H1N1 last November and has now lost both feet and some fingers due to complications from the illness. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Des McDonald says a lot of people can hardly believe that it was H1N1 flu that ravaged his body and left him in a wheelchair.
Eight months after he checked into hospital, McDonald has had seven fingers partially amputated and both legs cut off below his knees.
He's remarkably upbeat and positive, even knowing that at some point in the future, he'll have to go in for surgery to remove his thumbs.
Speaking to the Telegram this week, McDonald said he wishes people better understood the toll H1N1 took on some patients.
"There were people drastically effected, but the numbers weren't …" he says, trailing off.
He says he'd like people to realize that after the "big racket last fall" died down, some serious victims are still facing the aftermath.
McDonald's co-workers at the St. John's city depot are doing what they can to rally around him.
Some of the people he used to work with are organizing a motorcycle "Poker Ride" to raise money for him.
Riders can purchase a deck of cards at the Goulds Public Library between 9 and 10:30 a.m. today, and travel a route to get cards drawn at different checkpoints.
The rider with the best hand at the end of the day wins a donated prize package.
"At work they did take up a couple collections for him during the time he's been off, but myself and a couple of the other fellas were talking about it, and said what can we do to help him out?" says Peter Ryan, who worked at the depot with McDonald.
"A large number of the fellas that work with the city depot do have a motorcycle, so we figured it'd be a good way to raise a few dollars."
The ride will take people past McDonald's house in the Goulds.
Hopefully, the bikes riding past the house will be something to watch and enjoy; for a man who's going through a serious medical battle, McDonald's biggest complaint seems to be boredom.
"I can't stay in the house (forever), I'll go nuts," he says. "If the weather is nice, I'll be out in the yard. Like, even though I can't do anything down in the garage, I'll be down in the garage."
McDonald said before the illness, he was healthy and active, focusing on work and raising his three-year-old daughter. (Now, he says, she gets up in his lap and rides around in the powered wheelchair with him.)
With a case of the flu, he went to the hospital in mid-November.
"That night I went in, and then they didn't think that (I was) going to pull through that night," he said. "That went on for a week or more."
He was put on a ventilator and into an induced coma.
As the illness got worse, his circulation suffered.
"All your blood concentrates on the central part of your body - your main organs - and leaves your hands and your feet. So this is how you pay up for it. It probably saved your life, but ..." McDonald said.
At the worst of it, he had pneumonia, blood infection and he was on dialysis.
"(I was) outside the glass looking in," McDonald's wife, Vicki, said. "Now, they let me in, after so long. I took it as they didn't know which way he was going to turn."
Eventually he pulled through, and on Christmas Eve, he was transferred out of the intensive care unit.
Six months later, McDonald is fairly positive - "It's like this: I have no choice. What are you going to do?" he said.
Before too much longer, he hopes to get a set of prosthetic legs, and get back to work. In the meantime, he says he's thankful his co-workers are organizing the ride, although it came as a bit of surprise when he heard about it. He didn't really know about it until it was already in full swing.
"I suppose they didn't need to bother me with it, they were going to do it anyway," he says.
Anyone who would like to participate or make a donation can contact Brian Clancey at 576-6137.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: McDonald's, Goulds Public Library

Geographic location: St. John's, Goulds

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Recent comments

  • Sherrie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    My family and I never received the shot..and I have to say to this man..you have a wonderful attitude and I pray the Lord blesses you and your family. It takes alot of will to overcome sickness and I commend you on it. Your story is an inspiration and I hope you live a very fulfilled life.. br br God Bless br Thank you for sharing this heatwarming story

  • Lottee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    FRED FROM NL: You serious man! You must be lit or something...not a great article??? Go sleep it off bye!
    Mr. McDonald, your attitude and strength are something to be desired...You are indeed a wonderful role model to your family, your daughter and those who are blessed to know you..
    I wish you well...Thank you for sharing your story.

    To the boys at the Depot...Get 'er done!

  • Michael
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    First of all, I want to say that I truly admire your attitude & courage. You are a true inspiration to your family and to your community.

    You have really opened my eyes to the aftermath of this deadly virus. Even though it may have robbed you physically, it certainly never robbed you of the incredible spirit you have inside of you. It goes to show that life can really start to look up we do.

    Stay strong and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I would like to say that this clown Fred has about as much compassion as a rock. What difference is it if he had the needle or not? This happened over a matter of hours.
    The point of the story is to let the readers know what can happen to you in a matter of days. Your life is turned upside down before you know what happened to you. Lighten up Fred and show some compassion for this courageous guy who is airing his situation to let others know what can happen to you in the blink of an eye.

  • Newfie Gal
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Just reading this gives me cold shivers. br br I did not realize (as well as probably many others) that H1N1 could take its toll so bad. I never got my shot because I figured that it was a flu, you would get it and get over it. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that it would have so many after effects. br br I would like to congratulate Mr. MacDonald on pulling through and still being so upbeat and positive. Most people, when faced with these realities, would just give up. I would fall into this category. br br Also, kudos to Mr. Clancey and others who organized this ride. It is nice to see that so many people still care in this world to not turn their backs on a fellow co-worker, friend, husband, father .....

  • Old Man Winter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Wow, seems to be a lot of critiquing going on here and its coming across as whining. Did you not meet the requirements for a position at The Telegram Fred?

  • Fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Not a great article. How about the shot? Did he get it? Was it widely available at the time? If he didn't, was it a cost issue? The person writing the article should have mentioned it. There could be a broader story there.

  • Sillynewf
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Your positive and upbeat attitude is to be admired and something we all should strive to have! Great role model for your daughter! All the best to you and your family

  • Sherrie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    My family and I never received the shot..and I have to say to this man..you have a wonderful attitude and I pray the Lord blesses you and your family. It takes alot of will to overcome sickness and I commend you on it. Your story is an inspiration and I hope you live a very fulfilled life.. br br God Bless br Thank you for sharing this heatwarming story

  • Lottee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    FRED FROM NL: You serious man! You must be lit or something...not a great article??? Go sleep it off bye!
    Mr. McDonald, your attitude and strength are something to be desired...You are indeed a wonderful role model to your family, your daughter and those who are blessed to know you..
    I wish you well...Thank you for sharing your story.

    To the boys at the Depot...Get 'er done!

  • Michael
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    First of all, I want to say that I truly admire your attitude & courage. You are a true inspiration to your family and to your community.

    You have really opened my eyes to the aftermath of this deadly virus. Even though it may have robbed you physically, it certainly never robbed you of the incredible spirit you have inside of you. It goes to show that life can really start to look up we do.

    Stay strong and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    I would like to say that this clown Fred has about as much compassion as a rock. What difference is it if he had the needle or not? This happened over a matter of hours.
    The point of the story is to let the readers know what can happen to you in a matter of days. Your life is turned upside down before you know what happened to you. Lighten up Fred and show some compassion for this courageous guy who is airing his situation to let others know what can happen to you in the blink of an eye.

  • Newfie Gal
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Just reading this gives me cold shivers. br br I did not realize (as well as probably many others) that H1N1 could take its toll so bad. I never got my shot because I figured that it was a flu, you would get it and get over it. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that it would have so many after effects. br br I would like to congratulate Mr. MacDonald on pulling through and still being so upbeat and positive. Most people, when faced with these realities, would just give up. I would fall into this category. br br Also, kudos to Mr. Clancey and others who organized this ride. It is nice to see that so many people still care in this world to not turn their backs on a fellow co-worker, friend, husband, father .....

  • Old Man Winter
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Wow, seems to be a lot of critiquing going on here and its coming across as whining. Did you not meet the requirements for a position at The Telegram Fred?

  • Fred
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Not a great article. How about the shot? Did he get it? Was it widely available at the time? If he didn't, was it a cost issue? The person writing the article should have mentioned it. There could be a broader story there.

  • Sillynewf
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Your positive and upbeat attitude is to be admired and something we all should strive to have! Great role model for your daughter! All the best to you and your family