Otherwise healthy, Jonathan Watson fell gravely ill on January 18 when he was in Europe for work.
A father of three from Southern California is left fighting for his life after contracting two severe ailments during a business trip overseas. Otherwise healthy, Jonathan Watson fell gravely ill on January 18 when he was in Europe for work, according to a GoFundMe account created by a family friend Ally Byrne. Watson, who had been completely focused on raising his three sons— Landon, 7, Maddox, 6, and Wyat, 3—along with his wife Megan, then had to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where he underwent multiple surgeries. Unfortunately, both his legs below the knee had to be amputated and his body continues to fight Influenza B and Strep A, a bacterial blood infection.
"‘It’s hard to imagine someone can endure all of this.’ Words spoken by Jon’s doctors. Clearly they don’t know Jon," wrote Byrne on the fundraising page. "His survival of this illness up to this point, and multiple surgeries afterward were the first of many miracles." Revealing how it all began, Byrne explained how the Business Unit Manager at Hartwell Corporation was first admitted to Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills and once the staff realized that his condition required more care than they could provide he was transferred to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Doctors immediately placed all his organs, except Jon's brain, on life support and regarded him as "the sickest patient at UCLA Medical." They also temporarily inserted a blood-pumping device called an Impella. On using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a cardiac and respiratory support machine, to keep him alive, Watson's blood circulation was hindered to prevent further spreading of the infection. Four days later, doctors managed to lower the ECMO which allowed the non-operating left side of his heart to begin pumping.
There is no doubt that Watson's treatment has shown progress this far but there still is a "very difficult uphill battle" for the devoted father as he continues to fight the Influenza B and the streptococcal infection. "We’ve all heard of [strep] or even had it. Who knew such a common bacterial infection could turn into something so deadly?? Unfortunately, Strep A’s severe consequences are one of the biggest hurdles Jon’s body has to fight and overcome," wrote Byrne. Among these "severe consequences," one was that Watson's body was not responding to the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor,s leaving them confused about the severity of his condition.
"To quote his doctor at Saddleback hospital (before we knew it was bacterial Strep A) 'This is by far the biggest, and worst virus I have ever seen in my career, this is newsworthy, one for medical books. Jon’s team at UCLA have commonly referred to the havoc the bacteria has wreaked on his system as a 'nuclear bomb going off inside his body,'" she recalled. Eventually, his illness spread and turned into Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS) which then led to the amputation of his legs on February 3. Explaining how the bacteria had been multiplying steadily in his feet, Byrne wrote, "Using the bloodstream, bacteria from the infection ‘set up camp’ in several areas of Jon’s body, [and] as a result, his system went into septic shock and basically shut down."
"Needless to say, this is a devastating blow for someone as active as Jon," Byrne said of the amputations, a measure his doctors were forced to take due to his deteriorating condition. "The employee who chooses to go to the gym on his lunch breaks instead of heading to a restaurant. The friend who once ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain or completed a Tough Mudder just for the thrill of it … The dad who runs up and down the football and soccer fields encouraging his sons as they play their hardest. A devastating blow doesn’t seem to quite cover it. But what else is there to say?" Doctors have been closely monitoring Watson's condition ever since with the hopes of ultimately curing him.
"Jon continues to fight, and he’s fighting HARD but he is in uncharted waters here. No one as sick as Jon, with the conditions he has, has ever made it this far … Each obstacle, each triumph, each setback is a step further into the unknown," added Byrne. As of Sunday, Watson has been "tracking with his eyes" a lot more and is fully responsive. Doctors have encouraged his family and supporters to talk to him by sending videos that could help him recover. Watson's family is confident that make it through this health crisis.
"There is nothing in this world that Jon can’t conquer. He is literally the ‘Jack of all trades’, the smartest, funniest, most caring human. Ask him a question, he’ll answer it then tell you the research behind it. Ask him for a favor, he’ll be the first one to show up," Byrne wrote. "Tell him your troubles, he’ll do his best to solve them then research how to prevent them in the future. Give him your ideas, he’ll engineer a way to make them a reality. Tell him a mundane story, he’ll make it side-splittingly hilarious. Give him a challenge, he’ll make it his bitch. And guess what STSS, you’re his next bitch…"