Signs of hope for Art Hains in life-threatening West Nile Virus diagnosis

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:30 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Longtime Missouri State University Bears broadcaster and game-day host for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network Art Hains is still in a battle for his life at the KU Medical Center in the Kansas City metro area after being transferred from Springfield.

But according to his close friend and former Missouri State Athletic Director Bill Rowe, there are signs of hope for recovery, even though it won’t be quick.

On Tuesday, Rowe gave KY3 an update on what the 66-year-old Hains had been going through since he started feeling ill after broadcasting the Arkansas football game on September 17.

“That night after the game, he woke up at four o’clock in the morning really hurting, and they thought at. First, it might be kidney stones,” Rowe recalled. “Then they looked into different types of viruses (including a rare neurological disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves). But now they say it’s the West Nile Virus.”

Mosquitos transmit the West Nile Virus. According to Mercy physician Dr. David Barbe from a previous story about West Nile, it’s not common for the virus to have such serious consequences.

“There’s only one breed of mosquito in Missouri that carries the West Nile illness,” Barbe said. “Last year, there were only 11 severe West Nile cases in Missouri and one death. Eighty percent of people don’t even realize they’ve been infected. The other 20 percent will get an illness like a cold or flu. If the headache becomes more severe or if there are mental status changes like confusion or dizziness, you should seek medical attention.”

“It shook me a great deal, and it’s on my mind all the time,” Rowe said of Art’s diagnosis. “It’s so rare and doesn’t affect too many people, but when it does, it takes a while to get over it, and this seems to be a bad case. I asked his wife if he knew he had any bites, and he said no. Who knows what could have happened?”

But what’s happened since Art arrived in Kansas City has given Rowe a reason for optimism.

“His son Chris said he did open his eyes on the command, which he couldn’t do at all when he was here,” Rowe explained. “He also messaged that Art had gone from an open hand to squeezing the finger of the medical person who was there and had moved his shoulders forward and backward several times, and that had not been done here at all. He had been virtually in a coma before that. But they feel like there is progress. It will be very slow, and we’re all aware that there may be some paralysis from this. He’s still on a ventilator and will be for quite some time, but it seems like every report we’re getting now has more good news, and we certainly think he’s going to be with us. Last week we didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Rowe said he had heard from coaches, players, and other broadcasters from all over the country expressing their love and concern for Hains.

“It’s been hard emotionally for all of us,” Rowe pointed out. “People have heard that voice, and they relate to him. Everybody feels like they know him. I don’t care what their church affiliation is or where they live in the country or city. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like him.”

Rowe also fits that description, which is why the two became such fast friends. They’re both the kind of people you can count on, enjoy visiting with, and have connections with instantly because of their friendliness and relatability.

And with so many people wanting to reach out and show their support, Rowe was asked what Art’s supporters could do to help the family.

“The word ‘prayer’ has come up more than anything else,” Rowe answered. “We have great medical people, but they even acknowledged they were stimied. I really believe that we can help by spreading the word, keeping the faith, and praying that he will be better down the road.”

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