Andy Hetzel | CaringBridge

Andy Hetzel

First post: Aug 28, 2018 Latest post: Oct 4, 2018
Welcome to Andy's CaringBridge website.  We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. 

Andy is at UW Madison in stable condition. He has a condition called HUS that was brought on by E-Coli 0157:H7. He was diagnosed on Friday, 8/17 at an urgent care center and because this strain is not treatable with antibiotics, he was sent home with instructions to drink plenty of fluids and ride it out. This was totally reasonable given his age and good health.

Various members of his family communicated with Andy over the 8/17-19 weekend and nothing seemed to suggest his condition was worsening. However, his sister Christy and her husband Kevin went to his house on Monday afternoon, 8/20, because he wasn’t responding to texts or phone calls.  He was conscious, but was unable to answer basic questions, seemed to be hallucinating and looked very ill.  An ambulance was called which took to him to Bellin hospital in Green Bay where he was diagnosed with HUS and they determined that his kidneys had shut down.

On Wednesday, 8/22, he was airlifted to UW Madison as his EEG was concerning and UWM has continuous EEG monitoring equipment.

Soon after arriving at UWM he had a seizure and his airway was cut off, which resulted in him being intubated. Unfortunately he also developed pneumonia from aspirating. 

After having 2 more seizures on Friday morning, 8/24, at 5am and 6:30am, he was put into a drug induced coma as the doctors worked to determine the right mix and dosage of anti-seizure meds.

At noon on Saturday, 8/25, he was taken off the sedative he was on and began the process of slowly “waking up”.  Importantly, he has had no seizures since he was taken off the sedative at noon Saturday, 8/25, so the EEG equipment was removed late Monday, 8/27.  As of Tuesday, 8/28, he can move his eyes around and sometimes his head a little. He seems to recognize voices, but cannot yet follow commands which will be required before they remove his breathing tube.

So obviously super scary, and with all of the above said it sounds grim, but the team of doctors here are very hopeful that they’ll be able to pull him out of it. They continually refer to a large E-Coli breakout in Germany in 2011 where 104 people were hospitalized with a similar E-Coli strain, many going through the same seizures, kidney stoppage and other episodes experienced by Andy.  This report, coupled with his age and his good health prior to being infected and given how he is progressing, all point to him actually making a good to full recovery!  The German report suggests his progress will be excruciatingly slow though and his hospital stay could easily be another 4+ weeks.  

It is extremely rare for someone of Andy’s age and good health to experience such rare and severe complications from an E.coli infection.  He was in the best shape of his life—had been training for a 100 mile bike ride and on 8/12 he actually completed a 65 mile ride!

You may be wondering where he contracted E.coli and at this point it is impossible to know for sure.

Please know that throughout this process Andy has had a large family support system by his side in the hospital. Andy’s recovery will be long and he will definitely need help along the way. We will keep you informed of ways you can help. For now your words of support and encouragement are wonderful and much appreciated. 

Please keep sending Andy your prayers, thoughts and good vibes!

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