Woman's recovery from H1N1 is a 'miracle,' doctor says

Roseville, Calif. – With more than 300 people dead due to complications from the H1N1 flu virus across California, there is at least one story of survival.

In January, Lesley Bunning, 61, was taken to the emergency room at Kaiser Roseville hospital because her condition continued to deteriorate after catching H1N1. She spent most of her time on life support in a medically induced coma. Her husband and three daughters did not know if she would survive.

"We didn't realize it was going to progress that fast," Bunning's daughter Allison Perrins said in early February. "We didn't get a chance to talk to her again. We didn't say goodbye."

PREVIOUS STORY: Family prepares to take mother off life support after H1N1

As they prepared to remove Bunning from life support, husband Bernie Bunning said, "Absent a miracle, I'm going to lose my wife."

That miracle happened.

After more than 10 weeks in the hospital, Lesley Bunning was been taken off her ventilator and moved out of the ICU. She is still at the hospital recovering and needs to use a feeding tube, but can breathe on her own.

When asked how she was feeling, she laughed and said, "Better than dead."

"I had kind of an out of body experience. It was strange," Lesley Bunning said from her hospital bed. "I was giving up completely. And I had these big ol' arms come around me and say, 'It's not your turn, you can't go.' I remember saying, 'I've got to go, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I've got to go.' And this particular person wouldn't let me go."

Neither did the doctors nor nurses at Kaiser Roseville. During her stay, they did everything they could, even consulting with additional experts across the country. But after draining as much fluid from her body as possible to relieve stress, Lesley Bunning still couldn't breathe on her own. None of them expected her to survive.

Now, one doctor is calling her recovery a miracle.

Unfortunately, all of this likely could have been prevented – Lesley Bunning did not get her flu shot.

"I absolutely didn't believe in it. And now I'll be the first one in line," Lesley Bunning said.

And when she's not in line, Lesley Bunning plans to tell everyone to get that flu shot.

"I'm going to be 'Flu Shot Grandma,'" she said. "I'm going to make sure I'm on every school ground, I'm going to make sure I'm everywhere when I get out of here. Maybe that's my calling. There's got to be a reason."

Creating a foundation

Lesley Bunning's daughters and husband said aside from almost losing their wife and mother, the hardest part of this ordeal was not having independent support or resources.

Sisters Allison Perrins and Tamra Quinn said the family is hoping to create a foundation that can support other families going through similar situations.

"We tried to find someplace like that," Quinn said. "Personally, I spent hours online looking for help."

They said the foundation is very early in the start-up phase, but know it's what they're supposed to be doing.

"My mom was given a chance for a reason," Quinn said. "And if we can use that opportunity to make the rest of our lives count, then we want to do that."

BELOW: Watch the extended interview with the sisters as they talk about their plans to start a foundation


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