June Leffler Published

Sissonville Man Shares Story At Governor’s COVID-19 Briefing


A father from Sissonville joined Gov. Jim Justice’s COVID-19 press briefing Monday with the hopes that his story would encourage others to get vaccinated.

Christopher Holmes, 44, was a COVID-19 patient at Charleston Area Medical Center, where he stayed for 80 days. He was put on a ventilator and then an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, called an ECMO machine. The device is a last resort intervention that helps the lungs breathe and the heart pump blood.

“The hoses from the ECMO machine, they had to put two holes in my neck. My daughter said they were probably the size of garden hoses,” he said.

Holmes did pull through, but he ended up losing 110 pounds and plenty of muscle mass.

“I had to learn to walk again. I had to go to rehab, I’m still [in rehab]. It’s a long battle,” he said.

Holmes wasn’t vaccinated when he got sick. Now he’s gotten the shot, knowing it works.

“I was determined not to get the shot,” Holmes said.“ Everyone had COVID in my house, except my daughter, and she was the only one that had the COVID shot,” he said.

Justice commended Holmes for sharing his story.

West Virginia has one of the worst vaccination rates in the nation. So far, half of all West Virginians are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.