October 2, 2018

'They brought me back to life'

TV personality Greg Lee had a gift for talking. That changed when he was diagnosed with West Nile virus and spent several months in an induced coma.

Greg Lee had a gift for communicating and bringing people together that came naturally to the Riverside, California, television personality.

That changed dramatically in late 2015, when the Kaiser Permanente member began experiencing flu-like symptoms and developed hydrocephalus, a dangerous swelling of the brain.

Lee was diagnosed with West Nile virus and admitted to the hospital, where physicians induced a coma to prevent permanent brain damage. More challenges lay ahead, as Lee suffered cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.

"He was the most severe West Nile patient we’ve seen," said internal medicine specialist Quang Minh Dao, MD.

"Our entire team came together to surround Greg with all of the specialty knowledge that was needed to get him through this," said Timothy Jenkins, MD, medical director and chief of staff for Kaiser Permanente’s San Bernardino Service Area. "That team included intensive care physicians, infectious disease specialists, cardiologists, and neurologists, all communicating with one another seamlessly through our integrated system of care."

When he woke from his coma, "Greg basically had to start from scratch," said his fiancée, Gina Villasenor. “He had to relearn how to eat, talk, and walk.”

Now 2 years into his recovery, Lee credits his progress to "hard work, patience, and faith" — and the exceptional care he received.

"Kaiser Permanente has always been there for me. They brought me back to life."