CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – 36-year-old Eric Ellis will spend this Thanksgiving with his family, something his family never thought would happen again.
“My mom probably for the first week or two would come home and just cry,” said Ellis. “Because she thought that I was gone.”
Ellis fell off the second story of an apartment complex, hitting the concrete sidewalk, and damaging the entire left side of his body.
“I broke the orbital bone in my left eye but it didn’t require surgery,” he said. “But it still messes with my vision. I broke two bones in my ribs on this side, and I damaged my brain. My brain moved over eight millimeters inside my skull.”
Ellis was rushed into several emergency surgeries.
“It lacerated my brain and it was swelling to the point where they had to drill into my skull and do a transcranial cerebral hematoma to relieve the pressure inside my brain,” said Ellis.
But, the surgeries weren’t going to save him.
Or so, everyone thought.
“After a couple days in the hospital, they had written me off completely,” said Ellis. “They said even if I made it out, I would be a vegetable. But they didn’t agree I would make it out. So after a few days, because I’m an organ donor, they asked my family if they would be okay with harvesting my organs.”
The doctors were preparing to harvest his organs when the unthinkable happened.
“I was literally about to have my organs harvested when I took a swing,” said Ellis. “I guess you can call it a flail, and with that much brain activity they couldn’t harvest my organs. They said they would have to wait and see what would happen and it was the next day when I opened my eyes.”
Ellis started responding.
But his family and friends had already started grieving.
“They had officially deemed him as brain dead,” said Ellis’s best friend, Kayley Graves. “He was deemed brain dead and we got the call his family had made the decision to pull him off life support.”
Graves says it may sound cliche, but this was the definition of a roller coaster ride; especially for Ellis’s 13-year-old daughter, Savannah.
“I talked to her almost every day,” said Graves. “And it’s like…having this little girl message you and say ‘my daddy is never gonna be my daddy again’ and then ‘my daddy’s gonna wake up.’ It’s like…you don’t wanna give adults false hope. So what do you say to a 13-year-old kid? You know? I’m a 27-year-old adult and I didn’t know how to process these emotions…going up and down and stuff like that. That was probably the most difficult part of all of it. Was not knowing what to say to comfort her. And how to react to any of it.”
Today, Ellis is walking and talking, and has made nearly a full recovery.
He says the weirdest part in all of this – is watching how people remembered your life.
“My Facebook was filled with all these posts from people saying what I meant to them and everything,” he said. “And it’s a weird feeling to go back and see what everybody would say about you after you’re dead, while you’re still alive. But I’m one of those people that has that luxury and I can’t help but think it’s a miracle I’m still here.”
So what’s Ellis’ future look like now?
“I wanna go back to college and I wanna put my daughter through college. She’s 13, so I have a few years for that. I wanna get my drivers license back, and I guess I just wanna live the American Dream.”
Medical bills are piling up for the Ellis family. Eric says in order to get his driver’s license back, he needs telescopic lenses which are $2,500 with a $300 doctor’s visit.
So they’ve started a go fund me: