Suburban Family Muscles Through COVID Hospitalizations

Rachel Pierson
July 01, 2020 - 3:42 pm

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- After 72 days in the hospital fighting COVID-19, a Carol Stream man is finally going home. 

Chuck Drungelo was released from Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton Wednesday. 

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At one point, Chuck, son Jordan and wife Diane were all in the ICU at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital at the same time. His mother-in-law also was hospitalized.

Chuck, by far, had the most complications and almost didn’t make it.

He went into multi-system organ failure, and ventilation was no longer working. Doctors tried extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), using a machine that pumps the patient’s blood through an external artificial lung. The process removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen before circulating the blood back through the body.

“That was the darkest day. It was incredibly emotional, and it broke my heart. Chuck was the most critical patient in the hospital, and I thought I would never see my husband again,” Diane Drungelo said.

Dr. Jeffrey Huml, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital’s medical director of critical care, said it was extraordinary to have all three members of the same family in the same ICU at the same time.

They placed Diane and Chuck in room’s next to each other, with Jordan just a few doors down. 

Chuck was put on a 10-day regimen of the antiviral drug Remdesivir and enrolled him in a study to receive convalescent blood plasma from a donor who had survived COVID-19.

Slowly, he began to improve, and after 19 days on life support, he was moved off the critical care unit.  After nearly two months in a hospital bed, Chuck got back on his feet at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, a part of Northwestern Medicine.

“We focus on the science, but occasionally things happen which supersede the science and I’ll call that miraculous or otherworldly,” Huml said.