H1N1 patient reunites with VUMC staff who saved his life


As the weeks wind down to the end of the flu season, one flu survivor shared his story.

Chris Peters was diagnosed with H1N1, one of the most severe strains of the flu, in March of 2017.

On Thursday, two years since his recovery, Peters got to reunite with the medical team at Vanderbilt University’s Surgical I.C.U. who helped to save his life.

“It is a blessing because of what I went through physically and emotionally,” said Peters.

“It’s amazing, a lot of times we don’t get to see them when they leave the hospital,” said Chris Turner, VUMC Physical Therapist.

The reunion is a reminder of Peters’ nearly two-month recovery from the virus, starting at the hospital’s surgical I.C.U.

“When he came to us, we didn’t think he was going to survive,” said Dr. Lisa Weavind, VUMC Surgical ICU Medical Director.

The virus attacked Peters’ respiratory system, forcing Dr. Weavind’s team to go to extreme measures, using an ECMO machine.

“ECMO is an incredible tool that we have now to help people that have terrible lung injuries, but he was a fighter,” said Dr. Weavind.

Peters said that fight was more than just physical.

“The easiest of things – going to the bathroom, going to the shower,” he said. “There was a disconnect from what I was thinking of what I could do before and what my body was actually allowing me to do. My lungs just wouldn’t allow me to do it.”

After weeks of hard work, Peters reached a turning point.

The mission was to make it to a nearby door.

But Peters had doubts.

“We’re not making it to the door today, but we made it to the door and when I got to the door – it was like the entire hospital was standing there giving me a standing ovation and that just really motivated me,” he said.

These days, Peters said he’s just happy to be alive.

He hopes his near-death experience will be a learning lesson to others to protect themselves.

“They tell me all the time, ‘So I don’t get the flu shot,’ he said. “Well you might want to rethink that because I got the flu.”

Peters said the season he was diagnosed with H1N1, he didn’t get the flu shot.

The Metro Public Health Dept. is still offering free flu shots on a walk-in basis at three of its clinics until the end of the flu season around the end of April.

Lentz Public Health Center 2500 Charlotte Ave.

224 Oriole Ave.

1015 E. Trinity Ln.

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