After 12 Days on Ventilator, 6 Weeks in Hospital, Flower Mound Principal Returns Home

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There was reason to celebrate in Flower Mound Wednesday as Flower Mound High School principal Chad Russell returned home.

Russell was hospitalized for COVID-19 on December 19 after battling mild symptoms for a couple of weeks.

"It's a little scary. The word COVID comes up and things get real... real fast,” said Russell.

As Russell’s oxygen levels dropped, doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound made the decision to intubate him.

They started looking for hospitals to transfer him to with beds available for ECMO treatment.

When they couldn’t find one, they flew him to Oklahoma City.

Once there, blood clots in his arms and legs meant he wasn’t a candidate.

Still, doctors there took him into their care.

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County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.

You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:

Waitlist Links: Collin - Search Waitlist | Dallas | Denton | Tarrant

You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.

For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.

Back home, the community prayed and supported Russell’s wife Jennifer and their four kids with blue ribbons around town, meal deliveries and fundraisers.

"I'm just eternally grateful to everybody who has supported us. It's really made it so much easier to get through it,” said Jennifer Russell.

For Russell, 12 days on a ventilator was just the start of a six-week hospital stay.

"When I woke up and got out of the ICU, my hands would just shake. I couldn't lift them above my shoulders. I mean, certainly couldn't walk,”

Russell said just sitting on the edge of his hospital bed would send his oxygen levels crashing.

An initial return home to North Texas meant two rehabilitation facilities.

But with the memory of a missed holiday season still fresh on his mind, Russell worked through therapy with his own deadline in mind for release.

“My goal was to watch the Super Bowl Sunday from my own chair. So God Willing, knock on some wood, that’s going to end up happening,” said Russell.

He was wheeled out of the hospital Wednesday four days before his Chiefs take the field.

Back home, he’s working on catching up on lost time starting with opening the Christmas gifts he’d missed.

"I truly believe that God wasn't quite ready for me yet. He has something else he needs me to do down here. So I'm excited to have the opportunity to find out what that why is,” said Russell.

While Russell remains on oxygen, he hopes to be able to ease back into work from home for now.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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