When Frank Basler, 58, and his son were in Killington, VT at a bachelor party in March 2020 their only concern was having a good time. The expectant grandfather was enjoying spending time with his son and their friends in the mountains of Vermont.
Nine days later, Frank was on a ventilator fighting to breathe. No one had any clue that the COVID-19 infection that raced through his body would end up saving his life.
Frank is not certain when he got COVID-19, but he’s pretty sure it was at the Killington event when news spread that a party guest from New York became very sick on his ride home. Soon, 13 of the guests began showing symptoms.
After visiting the Emergency Room at Quincy Hospital, Frank was transferred to Tufts Medical Center. It wasn’t long before he was in a coma. He would need to be intubated – have a tube placed through his mouth and into his airway, to assist with breathing. He would be the first intubated patient with COVID-19 at Tufts MC to live.
Frank’s family had every reason to be hopeful when he came off intubation in late April. Yet within minutes, his vitals crashed and his doctors were puzzled by his escalating white blood count. A body scan revealed the somber news: a golf-ball-sized tumor in his stomach.
“They told my wife that night, if I lived through COVID, they would have to remove the massive tumor, but that we could worry about that later,” explains Frank. “They needed to get me through COVID first”
Frank got stronger and was released from the Medical Center. Within a few weeks, he was back for another procedure. His surgeon, Dr. Martin Goodman removed the symptomatic tumor from his stomach, which had grown to the size of an orange. If it continued to grow, the cancer could spread.
“I’m one of the luckiest people alive,” says Frank. “I’m lucky because I went to Tufts Medical Center. They saved my life twice!”
Frank says the nurses, physical therapists, doctors and entire care team were amazing.
“Their work, prayers and good will is what carried me through these two very difficult situations,” says Frank. “I am forever grateful.”
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