CARLINVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) - This year's flu outbreak has been lethal, with Barnes-Jewish hospital reporting nine flu related deaths and two more at Mercy.
It nearly took the life of a small town police chief.
Chief David Haley of Carlinville, Ill., says the doctors at Barnes-Jewish saved his life.
He's lost 42 pounds, has to go in for dialysis three times a week and has no memory of three weeks in the hospital. He says the flu tried to kill him.
"Just bothers me when I think about it, how close I came to dying from the flu," said Chief Haley, who has been protecting his small town for 22 years.
"I would much rather run into a bar fight where I know I got control than have something that I have absolute no control over," he said.
This November, the healthy 51-year-old got a cough that led to a temperature of 105 degrees. He was admitted to a Springfield, Ill.hospital and transferred to Barnes-Jewish.
"There were three weeks there that I was practically holding my breath the whole time," his wife, Missy, said.
The chief says he doesn't remember most of it, but she does.
She remembers when doctors first hooked him up to an ECMO machine, allowing his lungs to rest.
"Takes the blood out of his body, oxygenates it with a machine and then puts the oxygenated blood back in his body," Missy said.
It wasn't working, so the chief was put on an experimental drug approved by the CDC not by the FDA.
Three doses later, he woke up.
"I don't really want to know how close I come to dying and my family went through hell," the chief said.
He says a part of him feels responsible, if he would have taken the five minutes to get the flu shot this never would have happened and Christmas at the Haley house wouldn't have been delayed by a month.
Now, one week out of the hospital he has new energy to share his story.
"We want to show them pictures of my X-Rays where here's a lung and here's a lung and here's nothing," he said. "Where you can not even see a lung lobe in me at all, and that is something that I cannot even believe that I survived from."
"There's a reason I'm still here, so if this is the reason to get the message out, so be it," he says.
That reason he thinks is to spread the word to get the flu shot because he never got one.
He says he plans to speak to the public and make it a mission of his to share his story.