Health Watch: Reversing carbon monoxide poisoning

Every year in the United States, about 400 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

While cases spike in the north this time of year because home heaters are on full blast, it's a danger everywhere year-round. Some patients don't even know they're affected until it's too late.

Cathy Gunn didn't know driving her van into the garage could lead her down a deadly road.

Gunn said, "I was going to die. Going to die."

Her keyless car was accidentally left on. Carbon monoxide seeped out of the exhaust pipe and snuck its way into her home.

"The whole house had filled to a 190 level. Usually at 200 they see people unconscious or dead," Gunn shared.

Gunn had no idea she was breathing in the poison for hours. Somehow she made it out alive. But the poison was still creeping its way through every corner of her body.

"I told my husband I'm gonna die. Take all the money out of the bank and fly me anywhere in the world but get me help now," Gunn stated.

Help came in the form of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Gunn lay inside the pressurized chamber breathing in 100 percent oxygen, three hours a day, for 43 days.

Surbhi Jain, MD, from AdventHealth said, "It accelerates the elimination of carbon monoxide."

Dr. Jain says this method also eliminates the hyper activation of white cells.

"So the injury damage that is happening in the body at the cellular level is what the hyperbaric acts upon," Dr. Jain explained.

Gunn said, "The hyperbaric oxygen therapy definitely saved my life."

A life that took a toxic turn. But is now getting back on track.

Gunn says she does not park a keyless car in her garage and advises others to do the same.

Carbon monoxide comes from gas burning in poorly ventilated areas.

Dr. Jain says carbon monoxide detectors can detect when levels are too high and should be installed in homes in addition to smoke detectors.

Contributors: Emily Maza Gleason, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Robert Walko, Editor; Travis Bell, Videographer.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.