COVID Impact: Back From the Brink

Miracle man

Bill Maxim thought he had the flu. He was wrong.

Sometime during the evening of Monday, March 30, about two weeks after schools in Alberta were shut down for the year due to COVID-19, Bill Maxim mentioned to his wife of 58 years, Colleen, that he was having trouble breathing.

Colleen was immediately alarmed. It wasn’t the first time that week that Bill had said he wasn’t feeling well. In fact, he had just seen a doctor a few days before. Don’t worry, he’d been told. It’s the flu.

Really? Colleen wasn’t convinced. The flu? It seemed more than that. To be safe, she called
911. Within minutes the ambulance had arrived, paramedics were in their home, and Bill was being wheeled out of the house on a stretcher.

Colleen, sorry she couldn’t go with him but satisfied that they’d find out what the problem
was, expected to see him back home in a day or two. A week at the most.

At the University of Alberta Hospital, Bill tested positive for the coronavirus. Although he was in remarkably good health and had no other medical conditions, his age, 81, placed him among the most vulnerable of COVID-19 patients.

His condition deteriorated rapidly. By the next day he was on a ventilator. Blood clots developed on his lungs.

Back home, Colleen wasn’t faring well either. Denied the chance to see Bill in the hospital and physically removed from her family and friends, she was alone with her fears that she may never see her husband again. “No one could tell me anything because no one knew what was going on. It was all still very new.”

Even Bill’s medical team at the hospital wasn’t sure if he would survive. But they did know this: That thanks to incredible community support that has touched every corner of care at the University of Alberta Hospital, Bill got the best possible care.

And, that his team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, occupational physiotherapists and infection control specialists would do everything in their power to keep him alive. And, they did.

After 13 days on a ventilator, four additional days in intensive care, and another two full weeks in the internal medicine unit, Bill was transferred to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to help with strength and conditioning.

Today he’s known as The Miracle Man, which he most certainly is. He even made a gift to the University Hospital Foundation out of gratitude for the care he received when he was fighting for his life.

His medical team is back on the front lines, trying to create as many more miracles as they can.

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