Despite feeling under the weather in early January, sprint race car enthusiast and longtime A.L. Gilbert employee Wayne Albright still set out with his son, Dakota, and a friend to pursue his passion at the Lucas Oil Sprint Car Chili Bowl in Tulsa.
Unfortunately, while there, Albright, 56, grappled with flu-like symptoms as he endured through the day and evening events.
According to family members, while returning home through Grants, New Mexico on Jan. 19, Albright became delusional and was taken to a local hospital. His condition worsened and he was flown to a hospital in Albuquerque days later where he was diagnosed with the H1N1 flu virus and put on life support.
Albright remains at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, where he is in critical condition in an intensive care unit. His wife of 38 years, Judi, said Albright has been kept in a medically induced coma.
“It’s horrible to see a loved one go through this,” said Judi Albright as she described her husband being swollen and with tubes in him as he also battles the associated fever. “We’re holding on and praying he will make it through this.”
Judi just returned to Oakdale on Thursday, Feb. 6 after spending over two weeks in New Mexico at her husband’s side.
Since returning she received additional news from hospital doctors that Wayne’s conditioned had worsened and now was threatening his kidneys.
“All we were originally worried about was his lungs – they were toast,” Judi said through teary eyes. “Now we’re concerned about his kidneys, too.”
Judi, along with friends and family members, are working to raise money to have Wayne flown home. Judi said she was advised that they needed $20,000 to airlift him to an Oakdale area hospital.
While Wayne has health insurance from his employment with A.L. Gilbert, the plan does not cover the special flight home.
In January, state health officials said the number of flu-related deaths was at 147 in California, and an additional 44 deaths were being investigated. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency has reported 12 deaths from influenza so far this flu season.
“This shows how important it is to get a flu shot,” said Judi. “Nurses are telling me this flu is ‘the flu from hell.’”
Judi Albright has set up a way for those interested in contributing to do so, by going to a health donor website at www.healthdonor.com and typing “Wayne Albright” in the search field. Contributions may also be sent to Bank of the West, care of the Wayne Albright Fund at 134 S. Maag Ave., Oakdale, CA 95361.