The family of a Dallas firefighter who is intubated in the hospital fighting COVID-19 is asking for prayers with the birth of his third child coming any day.
Quinton ‘Q’ Tillman is in the intensive care unit at Medical City Denton, according to his wife Natassia who is three weeks away from giving birth to the couple's third child.
“It’s our ‘surprise baby,’ so it’s our tie-breaker. We have a boy and a girl, so we’re just hoping for a healthy baby,” Natassia said.
Natassia is hoping, too, that her husband is healthy and there to welcome the baby into the world.
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“We’re just praying that he comes through. He’s on 50% ventilator oxygen and that’s kind of his happy place so, we’re just hoping he can just keep fighting through,” she said. “It’s literally hour by hour.”
Tillman, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, is a firefighter and paramedic at Dallas Fire-Rescue's Station 1.
The family hosted a baby shower last Saturday and Natassia said her husband started feeling sick the next day.
“He was feeling sick and then overnight really, he was ready to go to the hospital,” she said. “By the afternoon, they were saying he had hours to live unless he was intubated.”
Doctors diagnosed Tillman with COVID-19 multifocal pneumonia, where pneumonia affects more than one area of the lungs.
Natassia Tillman said her husband chose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think that he has a strong Christian belief that he doesn’t want to do the vaccine. That’s been kind of his speech to everyone that with the vitamins and the minerals and all of that, that he could get through it,” she said.
She stressed her husband has taken the virus seriously and has ensured the family he has remained healthy since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Dallas Firefighters Association estimates 60% of DFR is vaccinated. To date, 683 firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus and a little more than a dozen have been hospitalized. One firefighter has died of the virus.
“We have three people in the hospital right now,” said union president Jim McDade.
McDade said most members of the department who have contracted the virus have fully recovered. However, there is ongoing concern over a number of colleagues who continue to struggle with long-term effects.
“Lung damage, to other systems that have been impaired. Kidney damage and things like that. And as of right now, doctors aren’t even 100% sure of what sort of function will come back,” said McDade.
The union is closely watching all studies underway that are looking at the long-term impacts of the virus on firefighters, who in general are considered at higher risk for health problems.
Firefighters who survive a COVID-19 infection also have additional requirements to return to the field.
“We don’t want to have anybody not be able to be released because of the long-term effects from COVID-19,” said McDade. “And then, who knows what happens in a year or two?”
Tillman has a 6-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. His family asks for prayers.
“I know his last words before he got intubated,” she said. “For everybody to pray.”