Yuma firefighter out of hospital after long battle with COVID

Posted at 7:04 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 21:04:23-05

YUMA, AZ — A Yuma firefighter is out of the hospital after almost losing his life to COVID-19. Brad Henderson, 52, was discharged from Banner Rehabilitation Hospital in Phoenix Friday.

Brad was able to walk using his walker to ring the gong during his discharge celebration.

"It's been a long time," he said about going home.

It's been nearly four months. The father of two got COVID in early October and was taken to the hospital in Yuma. He had to be airlifted to Banner University Medical Center with life-threatening complications. Doctors put him on a ventilator and then an ECMO device, that's a machine that puts oxygen in the blood. He was on ECMO for 55 days.

"He had so many health issues that happened at the same time--collapsed lungs. Afib, infections," said his wife Shannon.

She said she felt helpless, especially when she was three hours away in Yuma.

"That's what's so hard --is not being able to do anything. Just prayed and prayed and prayed," she said.

Once off ECMO and the ventilator, Brad started rehab. He slowly re-learned how to do things on his own.

"Yesterday, he walked a total of 120 feet, and he's down to 2 liters of oxygen for all of his activity," said one of the therapists.

"I tell people I'm here by the grace of God and the doctors and my --I call them ECMO nurses," said Brad.

Brad's been a firefighter for the Yuma Army Proving Ground for nearly two decades. He said his drive and a bit of stubbornness helped him push through.

"He's really made tons of improvement and largely that's thanks to his work ethic," said another therapist.

Brad said he was not vaccinated. He'll have a lot more therapy to do, but he's excited to go home. He said the first thing he'll do once out is getting Whataburger and then go see his dog, Professor.

"The only time I want to come back is when I'm able to walk so I can come back and show all the therapists what all their work did," he said.