Puyallup man on life support after contracting the flu

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A Puyallup man is on life support after contracting the flu nearly a month ago, and his family now wants others to know the risks and get vaccinated.

Daniel Fickle, 50, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Good Samaritan Hospital with Influenza-A that turned into double pneumonia.

"When he got put on the ventilator it was really just shocking. Everything just seemed so surreal for days," said Daniel's wife Tammy, who said her family didn't get flu shots until recently because they never thought they were at-risk. "We just couldn't believe this was going on. He was healthy. He didn't have the underlying problems that you hear about."

Once Fickle got pneumonia, his lungs began to fail within days.

"The doctors at that point prepared us for the worst," Tammy said.

Doctors put Fickle in a RotoProne bed they got from Portland - it's designed to circulate oxygen to the lungs. Fickle was lying chest down in the bed for eight days, but then his kidneys failed so doctors had to take him out and put him on dialysis.

"When it came time for him - that he needed the dialysis and needed to come out it was a huge concern that he wasn't going to be able to handle being on his back," Tammy said. "Amazingly enough, he actually reacted better on his back at that point."

Fickle, who got sick just weeks after starting a new job as a restaurant manager, is the sole provider for his family and has eight children.

His wife is a stay-at-home Mom who now spends her days at her husband's bedside in the ICU. The medical bills are piling up, but Fickle is just grateful her husband is alive. She's getting prayers and support from the community.

"It's so much easier to give than it is to take and I appreciate everything that everyone's doing," she said.

Fickle is now battling acute respiratory distress syndrome. His oxygen levels are so low that doctors are concerned about brain damage, but on Sunday he showed promising signs of improvement - he wiggled his toes and squeezed his doctor's hand.

"He is going in the right direction. It's just going to take a long time," Tammy said.

Friends have organized a "Dollars for Daniel" fundraiser on Friday, February 21 at R-Jay's Scoreboard from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. It is located at 1200 South 324th Street in Federal Way.

You can also make a donation to our {A href=""}KOMO 4 Problem Solvers.