7/24/2014

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Problem Solvers

Seattle man in coma after getting West Nile Virus in Arizona

Seattle man in coma after getting West Nile Virus in Arizona
SEATTLE -- Sunday was a bittersweet homecoming for a man who is in a coma and clinging to life. Rory Stevenson moved to Arizona for a new job in May, then became infected with the West Nile Virus.

About a month ago, Stevenson called his family here in Seattle to chit-chat, like they did every night. But that night in July he also mentioned he didn't feel well, saying he picked up the flu somewhere and couldn't shake it.

Two weeks later, Stevenson was in the hospital and slipped into a coma.

"He has encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain," said Debbie Becker, Stevenson's partner and mother to his children.

Somewhere, Rory contracted West Nile Virus, caused by a small bite from a tiny mosquito.

In addition to Stevenson's recovery, the family was also praying for someone to help bring this once-strong, father of two back to his family in Washington.

"He needs to be with family and most of our family is here," Becker said.

Sunday, part of those prayers came true. A company called Aerocare agreed to fly Rory home for free. Once he touched down at Boeing Field, paramedics rushed him to Highline Medical Center.

"It was a tough trip," Becker said. "It was almost 4 hours in the plane but he did well -- his vitals were good."

Doctors say they are baffled by Stevenson's case since less than 1 percent of people his age exposed to West Nile get so sick.

"It's hard to believe a little mosquito can knock somebody out like this," said Danielle Eggert, Stevenson's daughter.

But, at least he's home next to the people who love him so much.

"Just very very thankful and grateful and we're just happy to be back home," Becker said.

Stevenson's family tells the KOMO Problem Solvers they're hoping to find a neurologist who will examine him -- so far they can't find one. They're also trying to ship his Chevy Tahoe from Arizona back to Seattle.
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