Shelby man who had heart transplant 30 years ago fought Covid past 2 months

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 January 2021 at 8:54 pm

Mike Hodgins leaves Buffalo hospital after difficult ordeal to rehab at Medina Memorial

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Looking frail and thin after spending two months at Buffalo Mercy Hospital battling Covid, Mike Hodgins is surrounded by son Greg Hodgins, wife Kathy and daughter Alisha Duffina.

SHELBY – Miracles do happen.

Ask Kathy Hodgins of Shelby, whose husband Mike just spent two months in Buffalo Mercy Hospital, recovering from Covid-19.

Mike, 59, contracted Covid from his wife Kathy, who isn’t sure where she got it.

The last time she saw Mike was when she dropped him off at the door of Medina Memorial Hospital on Nov. 28. Because of Covid restrictions, she couldn’t even go in with him.

Later that night he was transferred to Buffalo Mercy Hospital, the only place they could find who had an ICU bed available.

The situation was dire, because Mike had a heart transplant 30 years ago, and doctors said he would need a miracle to survive Covid, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans in the past year.

Their miracle was realized this afternoon when Kathy and their children Greg Hodgins and Alisha Duffina brought Mike from Buffalo Mercy to Medina Memorial Hospital, where he will spend seven to 10 days in rehab to regain his strength.

Kathy Hodgins waves as she catches the first glimpse of her husband Mike being wheeled down the ramp at Buffalo Mercy Hospital. It was the first time she had seen him in two months.

While at Buffalo Mercy, Mike spent three weeks on a ventilator, while doctors kept him sedated. During that time, his blood pressure would plummet. Doctors also feared kidney failure.

During his ordeal, Mike developed abdominal bleeding and his epiglottis became paralyzed, meaning he can’t swallow anything by mouth. When he tries to, it goes down his windpipe instead of into his stomach. This resulted in a feeding tube in his stomach, which he still has.

Doctors are hopeful his epiglottis will return to normal so the feeding tube can be removed.

When Kathy learned Mike was going to be discharged and transported to Medina, she insisted on picking him up herself, so she could at least spend some precious time with him.

Alisha drove home, so Mike and Kathy sit in the back seat, where they hugged and held hands all the way home.

Mike Hodgins is wheeled down the ramp at Buffalo Mercy Hospital Monday by an aide named Thi, as his family waits to transfer him to Medina Memorial Hospital for rehab.

Kathy is convinced it is their faith which brought Mike through this ordeal. She said, even in his sedated state, he could hear her voice and she called the hospital every day. She would ask the nurse to put the phone to Mike’s ear and she would repeat that she loved him.

“Every day while he was on a respirator, I called and told him I loved him,” Kathy said. “Then I prayed with him every single day.”

She said it is the most powerless feeling not to be able to see your loved one who is so sick. She said the only exceptions to allowing visitors was in end-of-life situations, and she is thankful they didn’t get to that.

“It’s been quite the journey,” she said.

After getting Mike to Medina Memorial Hospital, the family, along with his brother and sister, stood under his window and waved to him. They are counting the days until they can bring him home.

Kathy Hodgins of Shelby hugs her husband Mike as she sees him for the first since Nov. 28, when he was taken to Buffalo Mercy Hospital with Covid. She brought him to Medina Memorial Hospital Monday, where he will undergo rehab.