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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 06/17/13
Media Contact: Becca Morra, 513-418-2368
Patient Info: To reach Drake Center, call 513-418-2500. To reach UC Medical Center, call 513-584-1000. 
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Sepsis Patient From 'Near Death' to 'Nothing Is Impossible'

In winter 2011, 48-year-old Greg Andrews felt nauseated and progressively ill after eating dinner with a friend. He suspected food poisoning, but his symptoms worsened until he couldn't bear it and called 911.

Andrews recalls, "I was taken to a local hospital where I was discharged after several hours because of 'minimal symptoms.'"

The next day, family members took the sick and disoriented Andrews to the emergency room at University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC). That was the last thing he recalls prior to a three-week coma in the intensive care unit.

What started as pneumonia had progressed to a blood infection, or sepsis. The prognosis was grim. Andrews' organs had begun shutting down, and family members were gathered to say goodbyes.

Weeks later, Andrews recalls waking up and seeing his mother's face. "She didn't have to say a word. Her expression said: 'You'll get through this.'"

The sepsis had reduced blood flow to Andrews' extremities, and amputations on all four limbs were required.

Andrews gained four prosthetic limbs--and with them, a sense of determination. After UCMC, he was admitted to UC Health Drake Center, where he benefited from both long-term acute care and skilled nursing.

He hated relying on others for help, which motivated him to work hard to regain independence. Today, Andrews continues to visit Drake weekly for outpatient physical and occupational therapy. "All the therapists are really great, especially Alan," he says. "We have the same vision to achieve the most. Nothing is impossible."

Andrews' trust in Alan Zidek is apparent. "Greg's been really good at setting goals and achieving them," says Zidek. "He's gone from being able to stand for only few minutes at a time to walking without any help."
Zidek helped create a specialized amputee program--one of only a few accredited programs in the nation--before moving to Cincinnati and bringing his expertise to Drake Center. 

Andrews says, "With Alan's assistance, I was able to do the one thing I wanted most, to walk again. I feel like I've been given a second chance at life, an opportunity to redefine myself."

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