(WJBK) - Jay Towers is one of the hardest working guys you'll meet. When he's not on radio, he's on FOX 2. When he's not there, he's probably talking to his dad. So when his dad almost died earlier this year, Jay almost lost his best friend.
"My dad's like my best friend. I leave for work early in the morning - I talk to my dad on the phone every morning of my life," Jay said.
His dad, Ed, is a family man who runs a thriving exterminating business.
"He's 70 years old and works a longer day than I do everyday," Jay said.
But in November 2017, his business came to a halt. Ed had to have invasive cardiac surgery and, after 10 days at Beaumont, he was headed home. A day later, he was back in the hospital in a fight for his life.
"I came home and I was in a lot of pain. I wasn't right. And the next morning I got up to use the restroom and I couldn't even make it there," Ed said.
For Jay, who thought his dad was doing better, got an awful phone call.
"I'm at work and I get a panicked call from my mom. She says she's calling 911. To hear that your dad is on the bathroom floor saying and saying 'he feels like he's dying'. That's not my dad. My dad's a tough guy, that's not him," Jay said.
Ed is rushed back to Beaumont where doctors learn he's anemic: there's not enough red blood cells in his body. That's not uncommon after surgery and it doesn't take long for him to feel better. Once again, everyone is relieved - until Ed took a drastic and devastating change.
"My mom calling me, telling me he's being put on a ventilator and everything is is failing, How in the world can that be? I was just there 12 hours before and everything was great. How in the world could that be?" Jay said.
He was shocked and he reached out to the chief nurse who has been there for his family, Melissa Foreman-Lovell.
"At that point is when I really knew that it was bad," Foreman-Lovell said.
So what was so wrong? Infectious diseas doctor Alison Grenados knew immediately that he was in septic shock.
"He was clearly septic when I saw him. He was on ventilator at that point. He was really sick " Dr. Granados said.
Sepsis is your body's toxic, inflammatory reaction to fighting an infection. In Ed's case, it was caused by bacteria getting into his blood from an undiagnosed bladder infection. Sepsis is also the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals.
"Blood pressure drops, you are unable to adequately get blood and oxygen through your blood vessels into the heart, into the lungs, into the kidneys, and those organs start to fail. That is happened to Ed." Dr. Granados said.
"Being helpless is a terrible feeling," Jay said. "We all know, because you want to do everything and you can't. That was really - that was hard. That wasn't even a day of that, that was four days of that."
Four agonizing days of fighting the infection with the most powerful antibiotics - all while fighting to keep his organs live. It was agonizing for Jay and his mom, Cheryl, who thought they were about lose Ed.
"We never thought he would make it. How he did, I can't even tell you. What, how. He was at the lowest of low," she said.
Jay struggled with just going to see his father but when he finally did, his dad gave him a message.
"I couldn't go in there the first two days. They said 'you really should go in there; he, at least, can squeeze your hand then he's back out again'. My dad's big thing is go to work, it doesn't matter what, do your radio show, do your television, go to work," Jay said. "They had him awake for a moment and I asked him should I go to work tomorrow. He's been in a medically induced coma for two days and he shook his head vigorously to go to work. I knew at least that it was him."
Then in the middle of the night, after four days of fighting, his body changed and his vitals bounced back. He was responding to the medicine and his body was coming back to life. Nurse Foreman-Lovell was the first to see him.
"I rounded the corner to go in his room and he was sitting up and smiling and said hello," she said. "I just broke down crying in pure excitement, and we took a selfie."
"Out of the blue, she sends me a picture of my dad awake and waving and it was like the shock of our lives," Jay said.
The healing was slow as his body succesfully fights the infection and he regains kidney funciton. Then he was standing and eventually walking. Two weeks later, he was home just in time for Christmas.
"I was really grateful. I said thank you god I survived this," Ed said.
Jay says his true life Superman is back.
"My dad is a medical miracle, everybody says that."
Sepsis Challenge: Stomp Out Sepsis Rochester
Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019
Stony Creek Metropark