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Father of 3 narrowly survives COVID-19, has extended hospital stay in a coma during vacation

Calcasola says he wishes he would have taken the virus more seriously and gotten the vaccine
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 12:06 PM CST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) – A man visiting his parents in Carolina Beach ended up with an extended stay at the hospital after suffering complications from COVID-19.

Jamie Calcasola told WECT he doesn’t remember much of his time at the hospital, but he still carries the scar on his neck from his tracheotomy and the pictures family members took to remember his 77-day stay.

He had no health issues, but he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Doctors gave him a 15% chance of survival, but despite the odds, the father of three was given a second chance at life, to be there for his kids and wife.

Calcasola was vacationing in Orlando in August when he contracted the virus and had planned to visit his parents in North Carolina before returning home to Texas.

Days after trying to rest at his parent’s house, he was too weak to get out of bed and couldn’t breathe. His fingers and lips were blue when they rushed him to the hospital.

Eventually, he got two kinds of pneumonia and became so ill he was put in a medically-induced coma, kept alive on an ECMO machine. Calcasola stayed sedated until October.

“If we weren’t here in that timing, in this state, with that hospital, I feel like I would’ve died,” Calcasola said. “Not all hospitals have ECMO machines that are available — they only have a few and they’ve got dozens of COVID patients that are dying.”

Life for his family continued while the machine drove oxygen into his body, allowing his COVID-damaged lungs to heal.

While he was on ECMO, his 13-year-old’s birthday passed, and his oldest daughters marked their first day of school.

Calcasola said he wishes he would have taken the virus more seriously and gotten the vaccine.

“I was the poster boy for anti-vax and the ignorance towards it all,” Calcasola said. “It’s something I definitely regret because I wouldn’t have had to go through everything that I went through and put my family through.”

Calcasola’s wife, Brittany Chitty, was by his side at the hospital every day.

“It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” Chitty said.

“My wife had to sit and watch me go through all this. I got to sleep for most of it, but they watched me fight for my life in that bed,” Calcasola said, adding he is grateful to be alive.

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