Cumberland County man survives COVID in ICU while unvaccinated, shares why he finally got the shot

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A Cumberland County man survived COVID-19 after spending more than a week in the ICU. He wasn’t vaccinated before he got sick. But now he is.

Everyone was happy to see Andy Wolfe back on his feet because just six months ago, on April 1, Andy went to the emergency room at UPMC Carlisle with COVID-19 struggling to breathe. “Within a few hours of that I was in the ICU,” Wolfe said.

And he says the next two days, breathing became even harder. “It literally felt like you were drowning, non-stop. At one point, it came up that they can’t guarantee me that I’m going to survive,” Wolfe said. The 42-year-old’s oxygen levels continued to drop and decisions had to be made. “I didn’t want to go on a ventilator, I just didn’t. So they put me on a machine called an AIRVO.”

Wolfe had to lay on his stomach. “Convincing your body that you can sleep like that is tough, especially when you are constantly thinking about when you are gonna die,” Wolfe said. While his body fought to stay alive, his mind prepared for the worst. “I just thought about what I was going to miss in the future and what I went through in the past.”

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The father of five also said goodbyes. “Even if I couldn’t talk we at least facetimed. That usually ended in somebody crying I think I got the goodbye out or I hope it’s not goodbye or something along those lines,” Wolfe said.

After eight days in the ICU Wolfe pulled through an experience he thinks would have been different if he had been vaccinated. “I still don’t tell people you should get a shot or you shouldn’t, that’s not my choice. In retrospect, in my mind, it was a mistake I wish I had it done when I had the opportunity,” Wolfe said.

He is vaccinated now and invited abc27 along when he got his booster shot. Also there, the nurse that took care of him in the ICU. “She helped me get on my stomach and talked me through it. Thank you Ally,” Wolfe said.

Ally Daywalt says seeing a former patient healthy makes her happy. “It’s wonderful because we don’t see that a lot and the thank you is very well appreciated I think by everyone because we do work hard,” Daywalt said.

She also gave Wolfe his shot. Which he says gives him peace of mind. “I still think there is potential you can still get it, but as long as I don’t have it like I did last time, I don’t care. I don’t ever want to end up like that again,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe says he is still dealing with some long-haul effects like trouble sleeping, joint pain, and scarring in his lungs, which his doctors say could heal over time.

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